So it's been a few weeks (20 days) that I've been living on Guemes Island and really it's officially my second month, since I already spent a full month here in January. I like to think of it as my second month because, like everything in my life, I'm in a hurry, and this time it's to become an islander. And though I've heard being a Guemes Islander is based on state-of-mind more than time spent, I think the longer I'm here, the more I can genuinely claim that I'm an islander.
[sidebar: if you don't know me all that well, here's a tip - once i decide upon something i want it to happen immediately, no ifs ands or buts, and have a really hard time being patient and just letting things happen. it's a virgo trait, a bad one, and one that i say that i'm working on, but really give the finger to.]
Back in January I asked a friend on the island, a real islander, what it took to be one of the tribe. I was met with an eye-roll and a laugh. "Sarah this isn't New York City! It doesn't take 10 years to be called an islander here. You either are or you aren't." Well, as you may assume, I immediately thought, "I was." Just the fact that I wanted to be on Guemes Island during the hardest month, January, where the gray, thick cloud ceiling is merely inches above ones head, and the mist pricks your face like a thousand tiny needles all day long and the sun sits above many layers of clouds laughing at the whole Pacific Northwest for almost the entire month, well that really says something. And I made it through the whole month with a smile on my face, and then I came back. Oh, yeah. I'm an islander for sure. Plus, I'm already a laid-back, fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants, crazy, free-spirited fool anyway. That's always part of the description of anyone living on an island. I was certain, on my way here almost a month ago, that it was going to take less than a minute for me to acclimate to the less-is-more, let it go, relaxed, mindful, easy-going lifestyle of Guemes Island. I thought I'd park my car, empty my bags and immediately be a zenned out naturalist.
I've found out quickly that my easy-going-ness is in the context of normal urban life. Island life is a whole new level of easy-going. I guess I didn't notice during January because I was so focused on writing a book, distracted by my aging dementia-ridden beagle and the fact that I was living out of a suitcase and was returning to Boulder. Island living was just a novelty to me then. Now the shit is real.
I'm not complaining. No, no, no. It's more like reflecting and revising and reporting back to you, friends. Far be it from me to keep my island adventures from you. I'm happy to be the crazy one for you, so that you can stay in the comfort of wherever you're reading this from - Chicago, Seattle, NYC, Boulder, San Francisco, North Carolina - and live vicariously.
So here I am, Ms. Laid Back, totally keyed up on all this islandness. Not really, but again, to know me is to know I'm dramatic. Here are the things that I haven't gotten used to yet -
well water: most all water here on the island is well water, and it's fine to drink, but tastes a little wangy. That's not the problem. The problem is that my scalp hates it. It's red and irritated and itchy. Sad face. I have to go see a dermatologist for the first time ever and probably take a break from using my luxurious, exotic smelling Morroccan oil shampoo and conditioner for some clinical, stinking prescription shit. First world problems, right?
ants: big black ones share the house with us. They crawl on the floor, the walls, my leg.They haven't overtaken us or anything, and I haven't crunched one in a bite of salad yet, but they're more around than I'd like. I've set ant traps in the hopes that they might solve the problem so I don't have to RAID the place, but no luck. I've casually mentioned that I have an ant problem to my friends on the island, careful not to complain or be seen as a wuss, and for the most part they've all just nodded and moved on with new conversation, which to me means, shut up wuss. It's an island.
inconsistent ferry schedule: it's late as much as it's on time. And, because there's little to complain about on this beautiful little island, everyone complains about the ferry. I've joined the crowd.
absentmindedness: I thought I was flighty and flakey, but again, it's in the context of regular urbanism. As an islander-to-be, I'm an anal retentive bitch. I'm all about following up, tidying up, making notes - all that behavior that comes from working in an office and having a 9-5 career for 15 years. I'm not saying it's bad or anything, but here, on the island, people just aren't concerened with any of that. And rightly so. Why would you care about answering a text or a phone call, or being on time, or cleaning up dishes when there are beaches to be walked? (well, I mean, there is one reason, see:ants)
businesses being closed from 12-1: Not everything is closed for lunch hour, but a lot of businesses, including the ferry and my storage unit, lock up for lunch. They ferry stops rom 11:15-1. You can imagine that it doesn't really phase a true islander. They're fine to sit and have a beer and lunch, or walk the beach, or whatever. It's like siesta time here. But me, an islander with training pants on, it still annoys me.
I thought I was already an islander. I am not. I want to be though, so really I have nothing to do but be patient. I can't force myself to be ok with my ants, or the internal struggle I have between washing the dirty dishes or taking a beach walk, or the fact that I really need something done between the hours of 12 and 1 p.m. I have to exhale a little bit more of my anal nature every day and hope that sometime soon I won't give a second thought to time, over-the-top cleanliness, scheduling, or my itchy scalp and less aromatic shampoo and conditioner. I just hope that all happens in 5-10 days from now.