Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Curt And Irma

I had gone to Stock Island to pick up my orange Vespa from Jiri's shop where it had been getting an overhaul. Ten years old and stationary all that time, then it suddenly had  9,000 hard run miles on it by me at wide open throttle...A check up seemed in order and all was well. A few rubber parts replaced, valve clearances checked, a new tire, fresh oil and I loaded it onto my trailer and took Rusty for a walk. 
President  Trump's peculiar comment about shithole countries has been on my mind a bit lately. I've traveled parts of the third world and  they can be run down. Why thats a reason to prefer Norwegians I'm not sure.  Escaping poverty is a hell of a motivator. Besides as you can see you don't need to travel far to find shitholes, if your definition is substandard housing and poverty. Stock Island will do nicely.
As we  walked I was pulled over by a cyclist. I never recognized him, I was looking at his machine, a rather slick electric bike nicely put together. Rusty ignored him entirely. Curt greeted me and broke me out of my trance. I first knew Curt in St Petersburg when we were anchored by chance next door to each other in the Vinoy Basin, a liveaboard hang out that has now suffered development and improvement. That was in 1989 and we met up again in 1990 in Key West and lived next door to each other at anchor. Since then our paths cross periodically and we catch up. This time of course we discussed surviving Irma which is a frequent topic of conversation - that and survival strategies for the next big hit.
Curt lost his boat when it washed up on Navy property and the Nevy forced him to abandon it, the waves wrecked it. He looked at me, this man is the ultimate survivor and he said in shocked tones he had never been homeless before in Key West.  Curt has defied all stereotypes living well in an impossibly expensive city, working menial jobs, saving money and planning his retirement. Our paths are very different, me with my city job and measured retirement plan. Curt with his freewheeling work, always showing up on time and being reliable, not exactly the bohemian ethic even though he is a painter in his own time. He got another boat, he's fixing it up and he is figuring his escape strategy. Climate change isn't  going away and storms aren't going to abate. We both know that. It strikes me as odd that everyone hasn't figured it out but in the meantime we keep on keeping on.
I was thinking about that capacity for self delusion and our response to not immediate threats as I rode the Vespa to Five Brothers on Ramrod Key to make my wife happy and get her breakfast.  If Curt the ultimate survivor has had enough after Irma's battering I guess more of us should take heed. Irma changed  a lot of people's perception about life in the Keys. Key West came out of it pretty well all things considered but Big Pine Key did not as did several neighboring islands. On my current schedule I have four more hurricane seasons to survive and it doesn't seem unreasonable to hope that they are mild. I really have no choice, its that damned pension.
The Vespa was running smoothly. Jiri has a magic touch when he works on my machines. I packed the Vespa with sandwiches and wedged coffees in the rather small Italian-sized cup holders and rode the five miles home. For now all is well, for Curt and for me.