Tuesday, July 29, 2014

We Bought a House!

Yes, it’s true.  In April, my husband and I signed the paperwork that officially made us homeowners in beautiful St. Thomas.  There’s no turning back now!  I’ve formally bound myself to dealing with the everyday craziness that St. Thomas offers.  Some of which includes…

1)      People’s failure to understand how a line works (Hint: the person in front of you goes before you).

2)      A general break-down in, or lack of communication.

3)      The prolonged length of time everything takes (How many hours do I need to get to the airport ahead of time during spring break season???).

4)      Safari buses randomly stopping in the middle of the road (Yes, yes it’s a pretty view, now let’s go!).  Side note:  a 'safari bus' is actually a pick-up truck with benches drilled into the back of the truck.  Proceed with caution!
This one's pretty fancy!

5)      General un-responsiveness (What? I haven’t heard back on a business deal because my contact is sailing in a local regatta?  My other contact is on vacation on another continent for 3 weeks?  My back-up to the back-up contact is in the states for the rest of the week?)

6)      The Internal Revenue Bureau - no further comment necessary.

The list goes on and on, and I am the first to admit that this decision did not come easily and was not taken lightly.  There was a lot of thought, sleepless nights and time put into deciding to establish a permanent residence on the island.  In fact, we almost bailed on the deal several times before finally committing ourselves – to the house, that is. 

However, we truly enjoy our life down in the islands.  With all the sunshine and warm weather that it offers, it’s a very happy place to live.  In addition, I am starting to gain some ground with my job, and we have made great friends and memories.  Of course, after moving 7 times in the last 9 years (the move to St. Thomas being a real doozy,) getting married and changing jobs 3 times in the last 5 years, I felt the need to settle down.  I’m all set with change at this point.

Naturally, buying the house created a whirlwind of activity for us this past spring.  First, we closed on our house, which could have been a complete Caribbean shit-show had we not hired an attorney that proved to be a strong advocate for us (thanks, Leigh Goldman!).  I’m not kidding, I’ve heard of closings that last months (by months, I mean it could potentially be over a year) because an easement wasn’t filed (which could also mean the paperwork was lost) when the house sold to the current seller several years prior.  This was constantly on our mind prior to closing, as our lease was about to run out.

We then proceeded to move, which shouldn’t have been a rough task since we were renting a furnished home before moving into our new house.  However, as most of us know, it’s amazing how much stuff you can accumulate over a very short period of time.  So, we borrowed our friend's pickup truck, and we jam it full of odds and ends.  We then proceeded to make countless trips back and forth, hoping that our stuff didn't fly out of the back of the truck. 

To top it off, we shipped a container full of our beloved belongings from storage in Chicago to St. Thomas.  Now, THAT was a fun little project for me.  Try keeping your patience after you’ve told the shipping company the pick-up address of your stuff at least 4 times.  Then, try finding a moving company to load your stuff into the container 5 days prior to the move date during the busiest moving time of the year because the shipping company just told you that they don’t load their own trucks. Instead, apparently, their driver simply sits in the warmth of their cab, smoking cigarettes, while you pay to have someone else move your things into the container.  I could provide multiple other examples of all the chaos this created, but suffice it to say that if you’re seeking employment, you should try logistics.  They will hire anyone!
Our container...actually this is 1/2 a container.

Anyway, I was shocked when the movers and truck arrived on time and everything went smoothly.  However, when the container (finally) arrived at our house in St. Thomas, about 6 weeks later, I hardly recognized a thing.  The movers were constantly asking me ‘Where do you want this?’, and I would reply with ‘What is that?’.  After all, these items had been in storage for 3 years.  How was I supposed to know what we put in all those boxes?

Upon unpacking these boxes I realized how much my life has changed in such a short of a period of time.  I couldn’t believe all of the items that our container had brought.  They proved to be things from another life - Stuart Weitzman high-heels, suede boots from BananaRepublic, Elie Tahari suits, cashmere sweaters from JCrew, countless hats, gloves, scarves and coats.  The list goes on and on.  These days, the closest I get to heels is a pair of wedge sandals and my ‘suit’ consists of white capri pants and a loose-fitting, sleeveless blouse.  Hell, if it’s too hot I can hardly wear a bra!

Anyway, I digress.  Since the house we bought was furnished, and we had just moved a bunch of our own furniture, we had a lot of shuffling around to do.  My husband killed himself moving furniture from here, to there, while I succeeded in selling a record amount of items on Craigslist.  As a side, Craigslist was a huge success for us, and I’d like to think the same for the buyers of our stuff!

Alas, we had gotten everything where we wanted it.  I can’t tell you how nice it is to finally have our furniture from our home in Chicago.  After living in what felt like someone else’s house for 3 years, we finally have a place of our own here in the Caribbean.  There is something very calming and comfortable in knowing that this house is ours to do with as we like. 

Kevin and I realize that with the harsh elements that this island provides, we will probably always be working on the house in some way.  And, we understand that it will cost us a small fortune to renovate this home, which now looks like a flash back to 1984 on the inside.  This is illustrated by the tile in our bedroom...all 4 corners of the individual tiles collectively make a daisy!  In addition, the walls in our kitchen and living room are neon green, orange and yellow because the prior owner wanted the house to look ‘tropical’.  But, I really don’t care because I look forward to the many memories that living here will bring.
I have a lot of dreams for this house.
The O'Neil's - Moving Day!
The House

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