The green-eyed monster has me by the tail . . .



This is where my sister-in-law is right now.  And where I am not.  While the average Jill might be a little green with envy, a tiny bit jealous . . . I am CONSUMED


This is St. Croix, U.S.V.I., and St. Croix is where I spent 14 of the most glorious months of my life when I was a teenager.  In fact, this picture that I copied for your viewing pleasure happens to be of Cane Bay, where I made my certification dive when I was 15.  Yours truly swam out to sea and dove a deliciously scary 80 feet down the Cane Bay Wall (which continues to drop a toe-curling 3,200 feet before hitting bottom — think phosphorous glowing fishies a’ la “Finding Nemo”).  I saw the most amazing creatures, collected the most beautiful shells, made the most wonderful memories.



While it has been 24 years since we returned to Texas, I am positive this is the condominium we lived in the first three months we were there.  The name has changed — it was called “The Barrier Reef” when we lived there, but the view is the same, the design of the condo is the same, I’m certain this is it.  In another photo on the website, I identified the condominiums next door as Mill Harbor, hence my confidence.  I learned to snorkel off this beach before advancing to my scuba adventures.  The reef we explored was full of sea life and named “The Barrier Reef” because it resembled (on a much smaller scale) the Great Barrier Reef off Australia.


I remember wandering through the 300+ year old streets of Christiansted and shopping in store fronts that were built by Danish settlers in the 1600’s.  My best friend, Cindy, and I would roam the shops and then grab a sandwich at Reed’s Deli followed by a trip to Steele’s Smokes and Sweets. 


 


Did you know that the aroma of flavored tobacco mingling with the sweet scent of chocolate is intoxicating?  We bypassed the smokes (although the antique lady’s pipe with a pink coral bowl and long ebony stem made smoking a pipe seem almost elegant), indulging in the chocolates that were to die for.


I don’t know why, but many of my memories are tied to scent:



Each morning, our school bus drove past the Cruzan Rum distillery.  Even now, at the age of 40, when I smell rum, I think of Good Hope School and the school bus . . . weird, I know.



It was an awesome school — a private school built on beachfront land donated by Laurance Rockefeller.  We had a rotating schedule, which was geared toward making sure that we were wide-eyed and bushy-tailed at least one day a week for each subject.  (So, if you had Math, English, and Science on Monday, you’d have English, Science, and Math on Tuesday, and Science, Math, and English on Wednesday, etc., etc., etc.)  I had one open period in my schedule and I often spent it in the art classroom pretending to be talented or sitting on a rock down on the beach until my next class started.

I met probably the most intelligent and interesting educator of my life while a student there.  Richard Collings was my European history prof and even now, I occasionally correspond with him.  An amazing man, he was born in England and travelled all over Europe and other parts of the world.  He was able to teach history with so much more depth and make it so much more interesting because he’d actually been all the places he was telling us about.  While he managed to keep us on track lesson plan-wise, he still allowed us time to discuss issues that were important, confusing, or interesting to us.  One topic that came up repeatedly was the hostage crisis in ’79 – ’80, when Americans were held prisoner for months on end in Iran.  We were 9th graders, and for the first time in our lives, we realized that sometimes things happen that our parents might not be able to protect us from, or even themselves.


In my mind’s eye, it seems almost like yesterday when we left.  Three days after my sixteenth birthday, we boarded a plane and came back to Texas.  It was really difficult for me, because I’d made some very close friends in the brief time I lived there.  I wrote some heart-wrenching poetry (thank you, teenage angst) and slowly but surely readjusted to life in the “real” world.


Someday, I hope to return.  I’d like to take my husband with me and share “my” island with him.  If I’m feeling particularly generous, I might take my daughter, too . . . but it would be an awesome “just the two of us” trip.  Jami might have to stay with her MoMo . . .

3 thoughts on “

  1. It’s true, the area of the brain that controls smells and that in charge of powerful memories share a powerful connection. The area in charge of smell is also, if I remember, right next to the limbic system, which is (I think) in charge of fundamental, basic desires and emotions. Olfaction is a more important sense than it seems…you know, experiments show that salmon are supposed to be able to find their birthplaces purely by the smell of the water. If that isn’t an indication of smell linked with memory, I don’t know what is (besides Marcel Proust’s rmembrances triggered by Milano cookies and tea, but I haven’t read that work myself). And glad you enjoyed yourself.

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  2. Ah, Kaiser, you are a veritable well of information!  And don’t you find it interesting how that sense of deja’ vu can overwhelm you when there’s scent in the air, the temperature’s just so, or a breeze ruffles your hair?  As if you’d been in that exact moment in time before? 
    Thanks for stopping by —

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