Growing up with eccentric artists who were madly in love as parents was something I didn't realize was special as it was just my experience. I always felt we were the rebel rousers of my mother's side of the family. It was obvious to me in comparison to my other cousins that my folks did things differently and that they got slack for that. It became more obvious when my folks decided to move to the British Virgin Islands at age 11years old. It was a place we had vacationed a few years back but now it was going to become my home.
My seven year older brother was off to art school in California that year so as it happened I also became the only child on this somewhat impulse adventure with my folks. My dad took the leap a year ahead of my mom I so I could finish sixth grade and so my mom could pack up my childhood home and put it on the market. I used to try to scare of potential buyers by stomping on the floor and remarking that there spot is where the water damage is.. or I would just opt for running into the bathroom while pounding on the door screaming and hysterically crying. The only reason that realtor sold that glorious house was because of it's mystical charm as I am certain I did all I could to keep it off the RMLS sold pages.
When we got to Tortola I immediately felt they had made a huge mistake. The things of comfort I had grown accustomed to in Miami Beach such as my grandparents on both sides living within distance to us, my cousins and aunt and uncle who lived around the corner from us, my hive of friends I had since day one at elementary school were absent but so were some essential items such as: air conditioning, traffic lights, grocery stores with items I recognized, roads where two cars could fit around a bend. There was so much adapting to do at first that it felt like a full time job.
This also included my parents socio economical status taking a huge dip. When we left Miami Beach we had a beautiful 4 bedroom 5 bathroom sprawling art deco home with a pool and outdoor courtyard fountain. Now we lived in a 2 bedroom 1 bathroom apartment called Slaney Hill Apartments. When we left Miami Beach my father had a shiny Mercedes and a Harley Davidson motorcycle while my mother drove a dark blue elegant BMW. Now they had one half beaten down used and dusty Pathfinder between them. I felt much less cushioning on all sides of me.
When school began it didn't get much better. Instead of going to the public school I went to the "private school" as I was labeled now a "non belonger", Tortola's version of illegal alien. I recall the title stung and looking back on this it was a very humbling experience to be a minority group as I had always been a very privileged white Jew from Miami Beach where there were a splattering of people but where there were a lot of other people just like myself.
The "private school" had about 30 kids in it from grades one to twelve and we were housed in a two room shack that Ms. Parsons owned carved into the side of a hill. When I first arrived I do not believe we had running water yet. I was the sole 7th grader and all of my friends were much older than me and I grew up fast on this little island with no legal drinking age. I remember Jenny Coish who was 16 at he time teaching me how to become anorexic (you sleep as late as you can go to bed as early as you can and eat very little in between). Samantha also 16 taught me how to chain smoke Marlboro Lights( you just light the new cigarette with the old cigarette). Sally long lean and 16 taught me about being appealing to men (first off it you are not long and lean dress like you still are and then giggle a lot and do what you think they want you to do...). It was a lot to take in.
By the time I was half through my 7th grade my parents caught wind of what I was really studying and smartly decided to send me back to Miami Beach to live with my aunt uncle and cousins who still owned their home around the block from my childhood abode. This was most painful as I was living with a family that I loved but also still felt like a non belonger. I was so close to home but not able to resume the life there that was mine. Instead I lived in the back room and continued my self study in anorexia and took more lessons which I will just label illegal substances. My childhood had officially ended in Tortola.
The years that followed were equally as confusing as I made a few more moves here and there with my mom then I went to boarding school just before I turned 14. As much as I wish this time of my life had contained more grace and comfort, I also understand now why it did not. My parents were trying to live close to their truth and take care of me at the same time and this life is messy and is not always linear. I believe they did the best they knew how and I thank them for the experiences I never would have had if they would have continued living their luxury car lifestyles.
I had loving people in my life and am so thankful for that as I know without that my story would have been very different. And it is my story and even though at that time I didn't get to create the plot lines and and scene changes now I do. And even then when it was lacking in grace and understanding I did feel something bigger at work than my teenage self. Living alongside such natural beauty and simplicity marked my soul for the better. I think this was the seed of my spiritual self staring to blossom. In all good things there are major obstacles and within those hinderances can be the marrow of our greatest good and growth . All things lead to here and this here and now is all we have and this here and now is a very sweet place to reside.