Well, I’m back. Exhausted, happy, hoarse, footsore, but full of music and friendship and warmth. My time in Key West was magical, as it usually is. Spending five days on the island with my music friends is something I look forward to every year, although I’m never sure I’m going to be able to return the next year. But so far, I usually have been able to.
Anyway, it was an amazing five days. I ran from 8am until 1-2-3am most days. Duval Street is about a mile long – my hotel is on one end, and music venues are scattered along the entire street, but mostly on the OTHER end. So I walk miles in pursuit of music, friends, food, and fun (okay, and a rum punch or two). If I were smart, I’d rent a bike and save my feet; remind me of that next year, when I’m limping around town on bruised, swollen feet.
Meeting of the Minds, for those of you who don’t know, is the annual gathering of Jimmy Buffet fans, called Parrot Heads. It’s a bunch of days of live music, fundraisers, auctions, parties, awards, and general merrymaking. Now, I don’t consider myself a true Parrot Head – most of them are considerably older and richer than me – but their presence attracts Trop Rock musicians, and that’s one of my worlds. So I join the masses for a few days, and soak up hours and hours of great music played by my friends.
MOTM is like Old Home Week. Friends from all over the country gather. I bump into them wandering Duval, in bars, listening to music. We form habits – meeting at certain places, sharing meals, catching up over cocktails. Days are filled with music and laughter, hugging friends we haven’t seen in a year, sharing a beer while listening to our favorite artists and songs. It feels like we’ve been together forever, and the good times will never end. Picture a party filled with hundreds of your best friends that lasts a week, and you have an idea of how I spent the last few days.
But all good things must end. On Sunday, we start saying goodbye. We promise to keep in touch, and see each other sooner than later. We know most of us will return next year, so at least we can look forward to that. But it’s sad to bid farewell to such wonderful friends.
So I’m exhausted, tired of walking and talking and laughing and not sleeping. But I’m deliriously happy. I wouldn’t trade a second of it. I return to a place that isn’t known for its live music – although I’m going to work hard at finding the music that IS there, as well as convincing my musician friends to trek north and play for us…once the snow melts.
In the meantime, I have great memories of a wonderful time. I’m dreading returning to the dark and cold, but hopefully the sunny days I just spent will carry me through. And if not, I guess I’ll be heading south again – definitely before another year passes, anyway!
Thank you, Key West. I’ll be back.