THE WHO …
My parents met on St Thomas in the early 1960s. My father, originally from Rhode Island, left college early and landed a job as a jazz radio dj and musician. My mother, originally from Long Island, had just graduated from nursing school; and came to St Thomas to visit her sister and kids. Our family history, it would seem, is intertwined with islands, both tropical and temperate, large and small. In fact, hanging on the wall at home is the portrait of a ship captain, a privateer and relative, who ran rum and provisions from New England to the Virgin Islands in the 1800s. Before I could drive I’d been to most of the islands between St Thomas and St Maarten. These islands are in my family’s blood.
For so many St John is an obsession … a place you long to visit again even before your vacation is over … or even a second home . My story is no different. Like so many people I set foot on St John and life was never the same!
“…the Island slowly wrapped its arms around us.”
My first trip was in December of 2008. My girlfriend had a family home in Coral Bay. She’d been coming down for 5 or 6 years; and had already fallen under STJ’s spell. She convinced me that it would be a great winter escape. And she was right. My first STJ beach … Salt pond. Not a soul all day! My second beach … Vie’s / Hansen Bay! Fantastic snorkeling, johnny cakes and honey and again, not a soul on the beach all day! The next 14 days passed liked lightning. We hit a new beach each day. I snorkeled for hours. And my heartbeat slowed to matched the rhythm of Coral Bay. When my visit was over … I hadn’t even reached Red Hook before I was planning a return.
Well, it became an annual pilgrimage. Every December / January we’d spend a few weeks on St John. Between hikes and snorkeling and shopping and making friends the Island slowly wrapped its arms around us. And like so many people do – we began to talk about moving to St John. Do you buy property? Do you build? What would we do for work? And each year we drilled down in greater and greater detail. We discussed all of the things we’d need to do to make the leap!
Talk eventually turned into action. We began looking for a long-term rental in Coral Bay. We bought a Ford Escape to ship down to St John. We held several tag sales throughout the summer. We moved furniture into storage. We sold our three cars and a small boat. We packed up 6 large suitcases. We drove the Escape to New Jersey for its trip to St John. And we boarded a JetBlue flight, bound for St Thomas, with our one-way tickets in hand!
The rest, as they say, is history …