Fort Myers is a pretty little river town, but I've seen enough of it over the past year to last me a lifetime. Indeed a life time ago I lived there for a few months and did not much enjoy myself. I am a political creature and living in a place where conservative politics are just assumed to be the mainstream leaves me at a disadvantage. The weather is not the greatest either with frost in the winter, sometimes, and tons of rain like you have never seen every summer afternoon. And yet, I admire Ft Myers' renaissance in the 1990s. The city is clean and tidy in a way I wish Key West could imitate, downtown is lively with bars and sidewalk tables, restaurants and music, art and theater.
It's a five hour drive from my home in the Lower Keys, up the Overseas Highway, onto the Turnpike at Homestead, then I-75 across the Everglades to Naples...
...where monstrous black clouds gather in the afternoon and then eventually we arrive at the airport La Quinta on Daniels Parkway. My wife likes to shop at Costco and Bed Bath and Beyond and Target and Trader Joe's and all that stuff and then we meet Jeff and go over whatever outstanding issues to move our app-in-the-making forward. The past year has seen us meeting on my weekends off, that is every other week as we tried to figure out how to make 911buddy work, how to configure the drawings for the patent, how to plan our marketing campaign and how to pay for it all.
Consequently Cheyenne has seen more than her fair share of downtown Ft Myers in the early hours of the morning. It's a fifteen minute drive from the hotel and the old girl loves trotting around early on a Sunday morning chasing down pizza crusts abandoned in parking lots by heaven knows who the night before.
Ft Myers has done a nice job of preserving these buildings, keeping the streets clean and so forth so I am forced to wonder why Key West is so cavalier about it's own architectural heritage.
The pause that refreshes while I stare at cornices and sky and ponder the meaning of Life.
Is it just that Key West needs to project itself as more edgy, more on the margins of stolid middle class respectability? Do grubby storefronts and broken sidewalks represent the wild side of family vacations?
I find it puzzling, perhaps because I don't view Key West as being that far off the beaten path. I mean, when you go to Key West you haven't fallen off the edge of the known universe...it isn't an Open City like Tangier in the 40s or Shanghai in the 30s, dens of iniquity and vice where Anything Goes.
Perhaps I have answered my own question. Ft Myers is nice and clean and tidy downtown (it is certainly a bit more raggedy in the fringes where industry, car sales and the African-American community live) and is thus more familiar. No Fantasy Fest madness, no reputation for...what is it Key West is known for? Gays, wild parties and wretched excess.
So I guess I can't have Key West be wild and devil-may-care and clean and tidy. I guess I will have to learn to take it as it is.
At some point in my life I will get to spend my alternating weekends off at home.