Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Dweller on the Threshold

Before the storm I’d been renting a room at the first house on the left up from the Water Island ferry dock. It had reputedly been Carl Sagan’s family vacation home and though it perched on the hill and commanded a prime view across the harbor to St. Thomas…there was no doubt that it'd been a while since Carl and any of his brood had decamped to their Virgin Island retreat. Ramshackle was a little harsh, but the tropical sun had taken its toll and the rent we paid was obviously not going towards maintenance. Regardless the house was tucked privately back in a grove of thick bougainvillea, had a large cistern, the aforementioned view from the living room picture window, large decks that commanded the view (a real perk during cocktail hour) and other fringe benefits. What it didn’t have come hurricane time was a low profile and consequently, we returned the day after the storm to find the roof peeled off like a tin can and the interior of the house blended and thrashed by a mini tornado that had marched up the hillside and through the living room. There was a wrecked sailboat rotting on the beach below the house. It was in no way livable.

A week or so after the storm living communally at Heidi and Larry’s had worn thin and so I moved back to the house. Or rather I moved into a tent pitched on the deck. I cleared a pathway to the bathroom…piling debris in the living room…and lifted the cover off the cistern to draw water for bathing (sailor showers with gallon jugs), flushing the head and other such necessities. I still spent all day working on island roofing and rebuilding and most of my free time with friends in more comfortable dwelling situations, but each evening I walked past the now ruined bougainvillea hedge and climbed into my tent, carefully killing any mosquitoes that followed me in order to keep free of the dread dengue fever. Despite all precautions I awoke one clear night at 3:00 AM bathed in sweat.


Tillerman said...

Fascinating story. You should write more about your nomad years.

Zephyr said...

Thanks for the encouragment!