When the reality of moving to a remote island started to hit, I suddenly began to remember all of the shipping disclaimers I had read and ignored over the years on almost every retail website I'd ever purchased from. Many companies offer free shipping these days, but usually there is a note in fine print buried way deep on the shipping information page letting the poor folks in Alaska and Hawaii know that this doesn't apply to them. They tell you that, yes, we *may* be able to ship to you. MAYBE. But it's going to take an extra 10 days and cost you extra, too. We can't tell you how much extra, but just know that it's extra. Oh, and the 10 extra day thing isn't guaranteed. It might be more. Just in case you thought you'd managed to get away with getting some kind of deal. The subtext of course being - I'll show you what you get for living in paradise. Insert evil laughter here.
Over the past few years I have come to love Amazon Prime. I love free two-day shipping and next-day shipping and the fact that we can be relatively absent-minded about things and still get whatever we need for whatever occasion on time. Sometimes, for some inexplicable reason, same-day shipping is available for various items. You buy any item saying FREE SAME DAY, and the Amazon fairies fly over your house and drop your package at your door. I once ordered a DVD player while leaving ballet at 11:59am on a Saturday and it arrived on my doorstep by 2:30pm. That's actually faster than I could hustle to get us all ready to go to an actual movie. Amaz-ing.
I don't even mind that thick paper tape with the reinforced string that rips my fingers apart if I try to open the package without a knife. Oh, and the returns!
Of course, you become a bit dependent on Amazon. You wait until the last minute and you buy every item that pops into your head because, well, you can. It is instant gratification at its finest. I order from Amazon and feel like I'm problem-solving.
Enter Hawaii. I chatted online with someone at Amazon before we left and they reassured me that the prices didn't just suddenly double when you entered a Hawaiian address, nor did you lose Amazon Prime free shipping privileges. The latter is only partly true. Shipping is still free on Prime items, but two-day shipping becomes 5-7 days (which means up to two weeks), next-day shipping costs a fortune and same-day shipping doesn't exist.
Truthfully, it's an excellent lesson in planning and resourcefulness. Amazon Prime wasn't an option when we were growing up. In fact, I grew up in semi-rural Australia where the closest shops of any magnitude were a good twenty minutes away. I can readjust ... you know, since I have no choice.
The problem is the time lag. I buy something on Amazon with the same fervour as before, and some time within the next two weeks it arrives on my doorstep. By then, I've completely forgotten what I ordered. There was a time when packages arrived and I knew precisely what they were because I'd only ordered them two days earlier. I knew if I'd ordered something that was a surprise for one of the kids and whether I should just tell them nonchalantly that it was probably just baby wipes and save it for later, but now I have no clue. Whoever is home will see that there is a package and ask who it's for, and I genuinely don't know. They're all smart enough to know that we don't use that many baby wipes anymore. I've started buying children's shoes a size bigger to allow for shipping times and I should probably start thinking about holiday gifts, too, since it's September.
It's not that I'm any stranger to shipping delays. My parents have sent dozens of packages over the years that have taken weeks to arrive despite the exorbitant shipping costs. I'm very patient. It's all okay.
The hardest part is that some things just can't be sent to Hawaii. We need a new bed, but mainland stores won't ship heavy furniture items here. Oh, and they don't have actual stores here either. Pottery Barn, West Elm, Crate & Barrel ... even IKEA ... they're just not here. I just did a store locator and found out that the nearest IKEA is in Palo Alto, 2,631 miles away. Eh, who needs a bed anyway? It's not like I sleep.