I fully intended to do a daily accounting of how I’m spending my time on the island, but you can see how successful I’ve been. I get up, work, head into town to meet friends and listen to music, come home and collapse. And then do it all over again the next day. Which leaves very little time for mundane things like paying bills and doing laundry, and even fun things like answering emails and blogging.
So in a nutshell, my first week on the island was filled with:
1. Rain. The storm that turned into Tropical Storm Andrea hung around all week. We grew fins and flippers as we sloshed around town. Since I love rain, I was the happiest person on the island. Although I kept showing up at the Hog’s Breath just as the skies opened, and my new friends started blaming me for the deluges. One night the power went out, and we spent the evening huddled around a couple of tables inside, watching the rain fall and talking about campfires and S’mores in the dark. It was a rude awakening when the power came back on and jolted us from our cozy evening as real life smacked us in the face.
2. New friends. One day I stopped at Sandy’s, a walk-up Cuban cafe known for their cafe con leche. I bought a guava pastry and sipped my coffee as I chatted with Skip O’Neill, who said he was the nephew of Tip O’Neill. He showed me pictures of him and Jimmy Carter, him and Sam Walton, him and his famous uncle. He said he’s the official greeter, and I promised to stop by and hear his stories again.
3. New places. I drove around the island in the rain, checking out spots I haven’t been to for a while (usually when I’m here, I walk up and down Duval and the surrounding streets – not much driving). I stopped at the AIDS Memorial and the Key West African Cemetery at Higgs Beach, and walked the White Street Pier. I went to a picnic at Fort Zachary Taylor State Park, where I once watched one of the best sunsets ever.
4. Old places. I’ve walked the length of Duval almost every day, watching people, exploring, soaking up the atmosphere. I’ve visited my favorite bars, walked the back streets of town late at night, bought ice cream and croissants and Dion’s chicken, and watched the sunset from Mallory Square and the Sunset Tiki Bar.
5. More new friends. Everywhere I go, people are friendly. They welcome me to the island, try to convince me to move here, and invite me to picnics. Cute guys dance with me, buy me drinks, tell me I’m beautiful, and ask me to marry them. (Not necessarily in that order.) I walk up to the Hog and folks greet me like an old friend – people I met just a few days ago.
6. Music. One of my favorite things about Key West is the live music. There’s someone playing somewhere all the time. I’ve listened to Ronnie Johnson, the Carter Brothers (related to THE Carters, as in June), Caffeine Carl and the Buzz, Michael McCloud, Howard Livingston, and Pete and Wayne, so far. And a whole new crop of folks start playing this week!
7. Old friends. I had drinks with Robyn, the woman who advised me to stay here for longer than a few days to see what life on the island is really like. I see her once a year, but we spend long hours talking about life and love and everything in between each time we get together. I run into folks I know everywhere (it IS a small island), and they introduce me to their wives and husbands and friends.
8. Etc. There’s never a dull moment in Key West. I work all day, then play all evening. Granted, since I’m not actually living here, I don’t have the normal responsibilities that I would at home. No chores, no projects to work on, no beach to stroll. If I lived here, I’m sure I wouldn’t go out every night. But since I’m only here for a short time, I have to cram in as much as I can. So don’t be surprised if my next post lists a whole bunch of different bars, bands, friends, and events. I’m making a list of “must sees,” and fully intended to mark each and every one off the list.
So, I’ll write again when I find time. But until then, picture me strolling down Duval, or sipping a beer at the Hog, or laughing with new friends at the Tuna. Oh, or sitting on the couch pounding on the keyboard or over-analyzing life’s challenges while gazing at the ocean (some things don’t change!). Thanks for joining me – stay tuned!