I wish I could say that in the months of silence since my last post I had accomplished something spectacular: written a bestselling novel, taught my children a foreign language, traveled to new exotic Caribbean locales, completely organized and cleaned our home, run a marathon… As it were, none of that happened. Instead, mundane things like potty training, endless laundry, school for both Babies (who are no longer really Babies, sigh), vacations spent either running around like crazy or doing absolutely nothing, and maintaining a workable family life, have been the norm. Numerous half-written posts litter my desktop; photos that are funny, interesting, gorgeous, or just plain random are scattered around in files, folders, and memory cards. The more time that slips away, the harder it seems to get back to it. Instead of further dithering, I will post, regardless of how imperfect they seem to me (or anyone else). And, away we go!
Suddenly, Silence: June – September
If the crowded Apple store in the Providence Place Mall hadn’t smelled like a combination of a boys’ locker room and a stale bus station waiting room on that fateful Sunday afternoon last August, I might have agreed to take the ‘one remaining appointment’ later in the day. As it was, I couldn’t get out of the store fast enough and presumed that it would be just as easy, and less odorous, to get the battery replaced in the small clean store on St. Thomas. A flawed presumption, as it turned out. But I digress…
My initial silence from mid-May was broken by a late June blog-post about an awful TV show that shall no longer be mentioned. In it I blithely and optimistically tagged on a promise to become a prolific blogger. I must have been in denial about the long hot summer looming, as the post sounds far too cheery. Most likely the optimism came from an early Babies’ bedtime, a whole delicious evening of ‘’Property Brothers’ ahead, and a decent bottle of white to help diminish the mountain range of unfolded laundry.
By June, Husband’s job had become a full-time and brutal slog, school for BG had ended, and my immediate goal was filling the Babies’ summer days with activities that didn’t all take place under the mid-day sun (only mad dogs, Englishmen, and tourists to St. Thomas, to misquote Noel Coward…). Many families we knew fled the island for the summer, or at least the mothers and children; some island fathers stayed to work, becoming very chill people who hung out in the BVI at weekends. To be fair, June was lovely here: not as hot as July would become, with parking available everywhere, room in restaurants, and for a while, even a handful of organized children’s activities. We did Coral World, the Butterfly Garden, toddler playgroups (now stuffed with older siblings), trips to various beaches and playgrounds both here and on St. John, and the STAHM’s and F’s even organized a multi-family beach day on Water Island. There is a tiny ferry that goes from Sub-Base every hour or so, carrying the mail, groceries, and anything else the tiny island in Charlotte-Amalie harbor needs. It also carried 14 of us, nine of who were under five years old. “Is this a Kindergarten?” our lady ferry Captain asked. No, just very ambitious parents who find strength in numbers and want a Painkiller ‘off-island.’
And then July arrived. Hot. No wind, no school day camps, fewer families with children, and still Husband worked crazy hours. We did all manage to make it to the finale of the St. John Carnival in early July – a wonderful and crazy day culminating in a hitched ride home on a friend’s boat dodging rainstorms. Days later there was the Home Depot Kids Workshop (first Saturday of every month and free!). They made a moving truck – a big hit, as I recall.
The children and I walked around in a constant sweat – buckling both Babies in steaming car seats was enough to make everyone want to go back home and change clothes. Twice a week I helped a patient and artistic friend run a small informal morning camp from our playroom (convenient and A/C). Afternoon activities became group survival events with the dwindling island stalwarts. We had potluck dinners on the beach, potluck dinners at the pool, massive orders of pizza delivered to both places…variations on the same theme of ‘get children out of the house, play, be active, and get them suitably exhausted before bedtime – and cook as little as possible.’
It was an extremely fun summer and good friends became closer, something island-living seems to foster. And best of all, the amount of time we spent swimming in the extremely warm summer waters of pool and sea resulted in BG becoming first a real swimmer sans floaties, then an avid snorkeler.
The Babies and I fled island in late July, originally to chill out at Mother’s, see family and friends, and relax. But oh! The huge variety of entertaining activities for families and children on the mainland! Sign us up! We all reveled in the cooler temperatures, the refreshing ocean (a good 20 degrees brisker than St. Thomas), and the novel entertainment. Libraries, zoos, big clean updated playgrounds, outdoor concerts, children’s festivals and garden parties, carousels, indoor day camps, water parks, restaurants…we tried to do them all.
By early August, my fingers itched to write something – anything! I was finally able to get out my laptop one day as the Babies played with Grandparents, so I took a deep breath, opened it up, and…nothing. No battery. The battery was officially dead and unable to hold a charge. Expletives ensued. I closed it, felt lucky that there was a relatively close Apple store, and got in the car.
The trip to the Apple Store in the Providence Place Mall almost did me in. It was a Sunday (first stupid move with weekend crowds looking for A/C), right after lunch (second), and my first trip to a real mall in well over a year (third). The Apple store was heaving with the most bizarre and random assortment of humanity and seemed like a badly organized circus. I was passed from blue-shirted to blue-shirted employee, struggling to look for nametags. ‘Ok, you’re gonna want to talk to Alice, she’s wearing a blue shirt’ – oh so helpful. Then it was Bob, Steve, Crystal, and so on. Finally I was told that they had one appointment left to replace my battery that afternoon in three hours’ time. Claustrophobia had set in and I was at the point where the collective fumes of a Yankee Candle Store would have been preferable. I decided, ‘to hell with it. I’ll wait until I go back to St. Thomas and get Marcus at techbox (authorized Apple retailer and repairs) to replace it. It will take no time, and I won’t have to deal with this mall again.’
And so, one morning at the very beginning of September, back on Island, I entered techbox, handed over my computer, and was told it would be about a week, they ‘just had to wait for the battery to be shipped to St. Thomas from the mainland. Should be a week.’ Anyone familiar with island living of this sort, feel free to shake your head and bemoan my naïveté.
Suddenly, Silence: September – December
Snippets from these months:
Me: “Hi, I am calling to see if my laptop is ready for pick-up. They said it would be ready by the end of this week.”
techbox: “Let me check…. The part has not arrived yet. We don’t know when it will.”
Me: “Has the part arrived YET?”
techbox: “They have to wait for the new iPhones to be shipped out first before they ship anything else.”
Me: “When will that be?”
techbox: “No idea.”
techbox: “Good news! The battery arrived. You can pick it up tomorrow.”
(later that day)
techbox: “It wasn’t the battery as it turns out. We think it’s the logic board. We ordered the part; it should be here in 5-10 business days. The good news it that your computer is still under warranty, so it will be free.” (Ok, that part made me happy, although now I was worried the warranty would expire before it arrived.)
Me: “Your favorite customer here. Any news?”
techbox: “The logic board’s not the problem, it’s part of the battery, and we have to wait for that part to be delivered.” (At one point, I thought about getting a new computer, but thought I would wait it out for two more months, as it was still free – imagine having that mind-set on the mainland!).
THIRTEEN WEEKS later…
techbox: “Good news! You can pick it your laptop this afternoon. We found the problem, cleaned your computer up, and it’s as good as new.”
Me: “Well, I’ll be…”
Silent no more in early December. Just in time for the rush of the holidays, two family birthdays, and another trip back to the mainland with SNOW! But that is another story for another day.