Thursday, April 3, 2014

Home Sweet Home

Let's face it, there's no place like home. Especially when it's sunny but not hot, breezy but not cold and your dog needs to recover from a long road trip.

Work has been interesting to come back to, no big changes, everything tools along just fine without you...as though you were never there. My dog slips back into her routine the same way, a hop into the back of the car, a walk, a meal and a nap.

We went downtown yesterday morning, Cheyenne and I, just to make sure Duval Street hadn't fallen off the continent in my ten day absence. You know how everyone has two minimalist jobs, maybe three in Key West...I wonder if I'd get free Crocs?

And people are still dumping food where my predator dog can hunt it down and kill it. No fast food joints on Ocracoke but there are a few in Key West.

We ambled down Caroline Street, wandered down Duval and crossed to Whithead Street, where the county courthouse is located and thus so is the marker for the end of US Highway One. I had hoped they opened at eight but a helpful janitor shook her and told me eight-thirty. Bad news for my bladder. Besides, what is all this shit about the "end of the rainbow..." and "endless opportunities..." Someone was high when they chose that sentiment for public consumption.

Key West has done well for me but I'm a lazy sod, not motivated by ambition, and happy to get time off, some overtime, old fashioned health benefits. I don't need to make waves or change what works for the people in charge. Years ago I was a really good radio reporter but sainted Ronald Reagan deregulated the airwaves to reduce everything to common denominator crap, the stuff you hear today put out by remote newsroom. I quit before I got canned, wondering what to do next and where to do it. A lack of a career is a joyous thing if you like to travel.

I feel lucky I landed my police job, much better pay and benefits and better prospects too than I never expected. And I landed it in a town I like to work in. But it does limit you, this much pleasure in where you live. You got to think three times before you decide to quit. The weird thing is I don't want to. For the first time in my shiftless life I am not looking for the next good thing. It's here and now.

When I was a youngster I was footloose and fancy free, I quit jobs and moved and I saw a lot of this country. Nowadays with a national economy in flux, not booming like they tell us, work is a precious thing. Even if I wanted to I wouldn't budge right now. I like Ocracoke, a lot, it's such a small intimate village. It's a great vacation spot, with no work and no prospects and damnit, they had snow this past damnable winter. Ocracoke is my Key West, the place I like to go and think and rest, and work off the stress of Spring Break.

So, dispite the irritations I'm glad to be home. Key West is the hometown even though I live outside the city limits. The work I do gives me intimate knowledge of streets and lanes and peoples' bad habits. One day Key West will get it together to work out a plan for dealing with those few hardcore bums who don't contribute and don't want to learn to either. The tourists come and step over them.

And yet I can see the attraction even for bums, perfect weather, lots of music, art, literature and public debate about every little thing because this is a town that inspires passion. Even on skid row I guess. I'm glad to walk my dog here but I'd still walk without her, there's so much to see every time I stroll.

Pretty nice to be home, and nice to have a home to come back to.