It turned out it was not a stranger at all but a former neighbor in one of Stock Island's former boatyards. Julian was working on her boat alongside ours a decade or so ago. She spent her days as a chambermaid factotum in several guesthouses around town and came back to her own little sail boat in the yard and evening by evening converted it onto a comfortable and functional home afloat. She wanted to know everything about her boat so that she could live on the water and not be dependent on anyone, not even her husband.
We have lost touch over the years, though she has had occasional encounters and greetings on the street with my wife but I was surprised as we talked that afternoon how much she remembered of our time in the yard all those years ago. It was quite flattering as, unbeknownst to me she not only asked my advice but took it apparently, and my advice stood her in good stead.
Julian is quite the character, which may not come as a surprise considering how she hammed for my camera. A decade ago she sailed the Atlantic with her then husband and came to his country from England. For Julian is an Englishwoman it turns out and speaks a form of English that might astonish someone who didn't know her. She peppers her speech with Northern-isms "owt" and "summat."
Key West has an odd habit of embracing some people and rejecting others, with no known parameters or reasons. Some people make their way to the Southernmost City as a lifelong dream and expect to be embraced by the fantasy. Others
And her almost by accident and never leave. How Julian managed to make it stick, living as she does on the margins I'm not sure but she's enjoying her own Key West.
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