MEMORIES OF ST. CROIX AND ST. JOHN -
Although I kept massive journals and dream books during this era, they are much too long and personal to record here - so I will write this remembrance, with the help of my journals, some twenty years later, and hope that my memories are not too distorted. One thing I have definitely learned in my life is that time is a great healer.
The boys were grown and had left home. Michael was a graduate of Rollins College in Winter Park Florida and had settled in West Palm Beach with his girl friend, Linda. Greg was in the Coast Guard and had just married his high school sweetheart, Helen. They lived in Virginia, just outside of Williamsburg, where he was receiving further training in Diesel Mechanics - his first love after surfing. The year before, in 1985, Mike, Greg and I had just returned from a six weeks trip to Australia, where Michael had spent a year at the University of Sydney. We had toured the eastern coast as well as New Zeland, Fiji, the outer islands and Hawaii. Bud had met us in Maui, where we rented a beach house for ten days, and spent our time just relaxing while Mike & Greg surfed.
Bud had heavily invested in oil and other businesses and was very "stretched out". Wanting a new life, now that the boys had left home, we visited St. Croix, with friends Wayne and Biddy Mohler, in September of 1986 to check it out as a place that he might like to possibly set up an orthopedic practice. He also looked at the Veterans Hospital in Puerto Rico but didn't like either place - or maybe he just wasn't ready to move.
Because of financial problems we were going to lose our home on Lovers Lane, so we both decided that maybe it was time for a separation. He encouraged me to leave the states as his business dealings had greatly upset me so I planned an extended trip to the islands for the next month.
When I left the states I had no earthly idea that I would never return to live in the United States - it was literally just a much needed rest that turned into a new life but I had no way of knowing that then. Bud and I had always loved the Caribbean and had spent several vacations there. He even gave me his black Bronco van, which he had used in his oil fields, to bring with me, laden with art, books and kilms and my dear cat, Miss Lucy.
I had driven it from our home on Lovers Lane to Michael's home in West Palm Beach. We visited for a few days, went to the Breakers, etc. After putting my mother's antiques in storage and leaving favorite pieces of furniture with friends, I had loaded "Bessie" to such an extent, with all of my favorite items, that there was not room for a toothpick before loading it on Tropical Shipping's delivery ship.
I was later to lose all of these pieces when Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast, 20 years later, but I certainly didn't know that then. I had brought with me my wonderful cat, Miss Lucy, my family silver and small heirlooms, kilm rugs, old photographs and boxes of books - packed solidly. I had also taken the gas out of the car for lighter weight and safety as Bessie crossed the seas.
I arrived in St. Croix in late October, during torential seasonal rains. Bud and I had discussed this plan during our vacation there a month earlier and Bud had approved when I found a cozy small apartment in an old Danish House on North Street - right next door to Mary Palmaroy, the Duchess of Malta, and owner of the best jazz club in the islands.
Above you can see me at the iron gate with the house beside. Was I ever lucky to get that set-up. Close to both the beach and town it was a perfect location for me. There was a young woman, Michael's age, Laura Lee, living behind me with Bruce, the owner living in the main "great" house and another woman Marianne, close to my age, living beneath him. We all became close friends and enjoyed getting to know the islands together.
At the time I was heavily into Metaphysics so I joined a great yoga group and studied with the Kripalu Extension School that was set up on St. Croix during those days. I really loved it and it was just what I needed for my peace of mind and for getting my life into the quiet lifestyle that I desired.
Almost as soon as I arrived I met the widow of a past editor of Playboy Magazine. She was older and had a gorgeous villa up in the hills. She wanted to visit her daughter in Europe for a few weeks and asked me to house-sit. I loved this as the view was excellent and the pool was more than relaxing. House-sitting was to also become a welcomed way of life for me in the islands, but of course I did not know this at the time either.
The month was November. In December my brother Jim arrived and stayed at the Buccaneer Resort, pictured above. We had a wonderful holiday together strolling the beach there, which was to become a favorite hangout of mine after he left. True saddness loomed over the horizon howerver as he night before he left he confided in me that he was HIV positive. Having just lost my wonderful, dear next door neighbor in the French Quarter and best friend Toby, the year before to AIDS, I was more than upset. He was not yet sick though so I thought, at that time, that maybe he could kick it with an excellent diet and medical help. We all had hope in those days. It was beyond our wildest imagination that this insideous disease would nearly destroy the planet in the decades to come - especially Africa.
I need to work, both mentally and physically so I got a job at Ancient Echos, an active metaphysical book store on Company Street - right beyond the main alleyway of town, and did horoscopes as well as helped out. Business was thriving as there were no astrologers at the time in the islands. Jenny Leigh was the manager and we became fast friends - a friendship we still maintain today. I bought a 14' Hobie Cat, like the two I had owned on the Gulf Coast, and named her Super Chicken III. I kept her on Cheney Beach and spent many afternoons sailing the delightfully warm waters of the Caribbean Sea.
In May I decided that I needed a larger place ro live as the noise from the private jazz club next door was sometimes more than I could bear - and I love jazz. I also wanted a pool and a view. I moved into St. Croix Condominiums (where Taylor is standing below right) and had a lovely one bedroom condo with a gorgeous view, pool and balcony. It was perfect. Things worked out well for me and I was able to retire from Ancient Echos and spend more time in traveling and study.
In June I visited Puerta Plata, in the Dominican Republic, for two weeks with a friend before going on to Lenox, Mass. where I studied yoga for a month a Kripalu Institute, thus obtaining my Yoga Teaching Certification (1987). As the condo was not available until mid-September I left for Manhattan and spent the next month with Jim at his beach home on Water Island. We had a long, lovely visit together and I enjoyed the solitude of reading, painting, yoga and walking the beach when he stayed in the city for several days and I at the beach.
Weekends there were most special as his friend, designer Perry Ellis - who also later died of AIDS, and all of their friends would come out for several days. We spent days filled with lounging and long conversations filled with concern about the full-blown outbreak of the horrible epidemic. It was the last truly good visit I had with my brother before he became so sick.
When I returned to St. Croix in late September my condo was ready and I spent many happy months there just learning to "lime" (relaxing the Caribbean way). In November of '88, Greg and Helen came for Thanksgiving. Greg surfed while Helen and I "beached" It was marvelous to see them and I really enjoyed their visit. Helen was to present me with my first grandchild, Lauren, on a full mooned night in June of 1988. I was thrilled. Looking back now, that was such a special time - being a grandmother. Helen and Greg had moved to Hawaii, where Greg had always wanted to live, and where he was stationed with the Coast Guard. Lauren was born in Hononlulu.
In early December I went to St. Thomas and participated in the Art Show at Tillet Gardens as a weaver. It was there that I met Clayton Porter from St. John. Retired, he had a home in Coral Bay that I was to later share for a year. We had a lovely friendship and I enjoyed many wonderful moments with him and his friends. I spent Christmas with Jim in Manhattan. He had already begun to have the beginnings of AIDS and had one medical problem after another. He thought that the warm weather would help him, though, so he rented a condo next to mine in St. Croix, for several weeks. Although he was not feeling his best, we did some sailing and shared long lunches together. When he left in February, I went to St. John to visit Clayton and to attend Omega Workshops at Maho Beach there - again studying yoga. I had been a vegetarian for several years already - a lifestyle that I fortunately have continued.
When I return to St. Croix the owners of my condo told me that they would like to move to St. Croix for the rest of the year. It was at this time that Michael visited me and first met Tina, Taylor's mother, as we were on our way to a jazz concert by the Moody Blues at one of the top clubs in Christiansted. Tina comes from an old St. Croix family and her mother, who is French and a most enterprising merchant, lives in a lovely home perched far above the town. Mike stayed in my condo and helped me when I moved to St. John where I rented a gorgeous villa in Carolina, overlooking Coral Bay, for the summer. I will never forget the humour involved in loading up Bessie, once again with all of my precious things, and putting her on a large barge to take to St. John. What an hysterical trip that was. Poor Miss Lucy - she was never into water and was highly alarmed from her cage.
After I arrived Clayton decided to attend Omega in Rhinebeck, NY, for a massage workshop and asked me to join him for a month. I lived in my villa in St. John while he was attending the workshop for a month and then sublet it and joined him at Omega where I took an advanced astrology class under famed Robert Hand. This was really a stoke of luck for me as I had always wanted to study with him. Robert has become one of the world's leading astrologers and his teaching helped me understand my life to a much better degree.
Clayton had taken his marvelous classic Gold Wing Motorcycle with him (he kept it at his home in North Carolina which he had rented out for the past decade) and we set about on a great fall tour of New England - stopping at Bed & Breakfasts as well as health hostils along the way. We had a really great trip. We stayed for a week or so with a friend of his in Conn. who wanted for him to help her paint her home. We toured all of the side roads of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, New York, Connecicut and Mass. I loved being on a bike with the total freedom that you feel - wind in your hair, etc. Yes, I wore a helmet most of the time. It was something that I had always wanted to do and I am so glad that I had the opportunity.
When we arrived back in St. John, Clayton asked me to move in with him. We spent several lovely weeks redoing his home. The interior needed painting and he seemed to really want my decorating ideas so we had a great time doing that. In the meantime, we had established a massage/yoga center on St. John so we were both busy. I moved in August. We had a marvelous fall together with my meeting and liking all of his friends. We shared long afternoons at Salt Pond with leisurely lunches and light dinners.
In November we had invited twenty-five friends to share Thanksgiving with us when I had an urgent call from New York Hospital that Jim was in a coma. I immediately left and basically spent the next months with him, in his large apartment on West 72nd Street and Central Park - The Dakota, until his death on August 19th of 1989. I really do not wish to recall those long months. Jim was so very sick but it was most fortunate for him that I had the freedom to stay with him at this time. We became very close and I can truthfully say that I have greatly missed his presence in my life. When Greg's son, Christian Terrell was born seven years later, he was named after my brother who was also very close to his nephews Mike and Greg. It was a really difficult time for us all.
Sometimes difficult days seem to hurdle together - Hurricane Hugo was a month later. Tina had presented me with my first grandson, Taylor, on July 10 that same summer and fortunately Jim had the opportunity to see him, before he died, when Mike's family visited him in Manhattan. After Jim died, Michael, Tina and Taylor moved to St. John and lived in a beach home not far from me during Taylor's first year. I babysat with him while they worked and it is because I had this very special time with him that we are so close today.
I had sold my Hobie Cat in St. Croix when I moved to St. John and had purchased a 23' day sailor that I kept moored in front of Clayton's house. When Michael and Tina decided to move back to the states with Taylor, I decided that it was time to do what I had really wanted to do all of my life - sail. I sold my small boat and bought a 37' CSY cutter sloop, Antares. Clayton and I had grown apart and it was time to get on with my life.
If Jim's death taught me anything it is the briefness of this small span we have on our planet. Tomorrow is actually today - knowing this I moved once more. To a lovely home on the sea in Frenchman's Cay, British Virgin Islands. But I really spent all of my time sailing. Making this move to the BVI was the best thing that ever happened to me. I later met David and have spent the last 15 years living with him and sailing these islands.
I have always loved John Lennon's prophetic words, "Life is what happens when you are busy making plans" so I make no more plans and just take one day at a time. It is really much better that way.
Buccaneer Beach above - My Danish house below
Christiansted Harbor above - Ancient Echos below
Clayton's house above - was on the beach overlooking Coral Bay so the breezes were always great. There was a huge front porch when I lived there. This picture was taken later. Our precious Taylor is a baby here. I can't remember the guy I was sailing with in St Croix but I normally took the helm as it was my boat. He must have been a guest. Clayton's 1976 Gold Wing. We toured the northeastern U.S. for five weeks on it during the summer of 1988. It was a great trip. Clayton and I are above. You can see that he was everyone's guru.
COUNTRY SONG WE WROTE - 1984
I desperately want
to have it all within my grasp.
Without the love I need
I know I cannot last.
Loving in sand on star white beaches
feeling everything's new
Baby, oh Baby, oh Baby
it's you, you, you
I have finally found it.
At last my world is oh, so sane
The love that I have wanted
has taken away the pain.
Singing songs in the morning
feeling everything's new
Baby, oh Baby, Oh Baby
it's you, it's you, oh yea, it's you
I moved to St. Croix in 1986 where I lived in a Danish Great House (below) for a year. Wanting to be closer to the Caribbean Sea, I next moved to a beautiful condo area named St. Croix by the sea where I lived happily until I visited St. John and fell in love with the island. There I lived in Coral Bay until my brother, Jim, died in 1989. I owned a Hobie Cat on St. Croix and a Pearson 23 on St. John so I have always enjoyed sailing the Virgins.
MY HOME ON NORTH STREET, CHRISTIANSTED, ABOVE