How does moving to an Island nearly 3000 miles away, versus a city 1000 miles away, change things? We’ve moved across the country a time or two now….but this was going to be different.
We had a lot of questions at first. Do we take it all? What would that cost? If we don’t take it all, what DO we take? Life was going to be different in St. Thomas….moving from a high desert to the humidity of the subtropics, a different lifestyle, culture, activities…rented housing vs. owning a home…possibly different priorities and concerns, i.e. sun, open windows, trade winds, potential hurricanes, power outages, lack of freshwater, did I mention humidity?
Deciding what to ship was a never ending stream of arduous judgment calls, but it got much easier with a little practice. Working through my attachments, first intellectually, and then viscerally, I was eventually able to release each with a sense of wholeness rather than emptiness. With every attachment I let go of, I seemed to recover a small piece of myself, rather than feeling each time like a small piece of me had been torn off.
The attachment I struggled with most was my beautiful iMac computer. With its deliciously glossy 24” screen, sleek aluminum body, it was my personal portal to the wonderful worldwide Interweb that helps beckon my soul to eventual manifestation as words on the page. No matter what airline I ended up flying, I knew there was no way I could fit that miraculous machine in an overhead compartment, or under the seat in front of me. I became concerned when I realized I was having trouble imagining pulling the plug and putting it in a box, not knowing exactly when we might be reunited.
I clamored for alternatives. I considered everything, including trading it in on a laptop that I could carry with me. With my data transferred to a laptop, we would never be separated, and I could stay connected. Symbolically, it was starting to resemble a security blanket, and I wasn’t sure that was a healthy sign. Unfortunately, even when accounting for shipping costs, I couldn’t swing a net-zero trade, and I couldn’t justify spending additional funds on a “security blanket” at a time like this.
Again, the Universe conspired FOR me, and the day before I planned to ship my beloved iMac, I lost my Comcast High-Speed Broadband connection. As frustrated as I was, with so much still to do, I recognized it for the blessing it was, and pulled the plugs, packed her up just like she was from the factory, and set her in the queue near the front door to go to Pak Mail the next day.
My advice to anyone considering a move to these islands is…. Leave your stuff behind and be prepared to make a fresh start of everything!
What happened next brings us to Reason #1 for leaving it all behind…..
This is what my iMac looked like when it arrived. (I’m gratefully using Marty’s PC laptop, not without its frustrations, however…<urggghhh!> , which he hand carried down here, of course.)
I first packed it in its original manufacturer’s packaging. Then I took it to PakMail of Littleton, where they were to place that box in whatever their expertise dictated it needed to get to St. Thomas safely.
- FedEx is the only carrier that will allow high insurance limits.
- FedEx considers shipments from the U.S. (Mainland) to the U.S. Virgin Islands “International.”
- International shipping charges (including insurance) were about $400.00. I’m hopeful I’ll receive a refund from PakMail.
- Insurance values above $2,500.00 USD require the shipper to obtain a “Harmonic Code.” It seems that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security wants to know when anything of a higher value is leaving the Country.
- Getting said code was taking way too long in this case, so I reduced the insurance value to $2,499.00 to keep the process moving. I should be able to replace it
The USPS considers the USVI a part of the United States. Anything sent from the mainland to St. Thomas is considered a domestic shipment, and qualifies for Domestic Flat Rate Shipping.
- Free Boxes!
- Largest Box: 12” x 12” x 5.5”
- Same rate up to a maximum weight of 70 lbs.
- Postage: $14.50…. $13.95 if you create the label and purchase postage online (Tip: only enter one package at a time.) This was a plus for me because I was shipping a dozen boxes at once.
- You can schedule free pickup from your location. This really made life easier.
- The (free) boxes are crap! The long trip to the USVI seems to be brutal on just about everything we shipped.
We didn’t feel like spending thousands of dollars to have our stuff moved to and then palletized in Miami, put in a shipping container, put on a cargo ship, only to show up weeks or months later, if at all, potentially battered, bruised, or worse, at which point we would need to get the container up the mountain and down the steep, winding road to our place. In retrospect, I am glad our Mikasa China service for 8 will find a new home via the estate sale.
We realized we would have to repeat the same miserable exercise to get our stuff OFF the rock the next time we move. In our case, this was paramount . What if the airline suddenly reassigns us to a different island base? Or what if we decide we want to switch islands…give St. Croix a try, then Puerto Rico…???? What if, in a couple of years, Marty wants to fly around the Maldive Islands in the Indian Ocean? What if we decide to move back to the mainland? (It could happen????….)
The most important reason, to me, for leaving it all behind, is…..It’s just stuff! For the last month I was on the mainland, the only thing keeping me away from my husband, turquoise water, and sunshine was….you guessed it, STUFF! Sorting through and shipping or otherwise disposing of stuff consumed a lot of time and energy I would have preferred to have used elsewhere.
Never again, my friend. I am finally willing to acknowledge that I have the spirit of a curious gypsy. All I have to do is to start living like one, so that the next time Marty and I look at each other with that twinkle in our eyes that says, “I’m ready for a change. What should we do next?” we each will be able to pack one suitcase and set sail toward our next dream.