My friend Mandy the artist living in the middle of the country got an eviction notice last week putting herself and her roommate in the street in a few weeks. The text messages developed a slightly frantic note as she started to contemplate a summer road trip to take advantage of her rootless state. Then suddenly a new living situation made itself available to the two roommates and all is settled. A new home, a fresh start and more adventures in a new town. Stress equals opportunity I keep reminding the artist.
Part of her frustration was with the cost of housing. Her roommate has a family able to help Mandy's friend to buy a house but the costs of housing in St Louis are astronomical especially in relation to wages. Well, I thought to myself, fancy that. We moan with a clearly defined sense of superiority in Key West convinced things couldn't be worse and no one else has it so bad and Mandy's momentary housing blip put that problem into perspective. Two women with two dogs need housing and for that to happen they had to move out of the city. Not at all unlike the blessed Florida Keys.
I thought to myself how impossible it must be if housing everywhere is out of reach, the insulation of living in the Conch Republic was breached and I had to contemplate that conundrum for a while. It was bad enough hearing on the news the stories of families used to being sustained by Federal jobs that are no longer paying because the politicians fight over the budget. Their situation was all over the news last week and I could only ponder what a pain that must be, to have a job and not get paid or to be eligible for unemployment as you are essentially not working at all. I am so thankful to live in Key West under the city's employment umbrella.
Life in Key West has gone all weird too, as winter closes it's grip on the state Up North and everyone, and I mean everyone shows up in the Keys to enjoy perfect winter weather. You can hardly blame them but it is a bit breathtaking how badly the standard of driving has fallen as visitors get lost and dither and back track and do sudden unexpected things without turn signals. The recent holidays have seen some berk piss in the elevator in my apartment complex twice. Someone suggested it might have been a dog, a suggestion I take offense at, but nevertheless I pointed out the dog must be choosing to get drunk and forget himself on the very nights humans were doing the same thing. Yes and my slippers on my still swollen feet had to go into the laundry right away. I don't mean to whine but mistaking the elevator for a pissoir seems a bit much. Luckily I live for the moment on the first floor. Luckily there is an elevator at all as I am still having trouble with stairs.
So I take myself off with the camera reminding myself life is good even though everything seems so crowded. Oh and wait a minute a sudden downpour reminds me I haven't been keeping an eye on the weather and the recent heavy humidity was, as usual, a warning of a cold front to come. It came and Rusty and I sat on the deck and watched the heavy cold water drops splat in the parking lot. So much for a sunset walk I thought...
But no, these are the Florida Keys and my wife was in Miami, I was off work and the sun came back out in time for Rusty and I to go exploring together. I can't walk far or fast with my rolling walker but my dog is a good boy and he puts up with my limitations. He trots off and keeps an eye on me, he comes when I call and I wear myself out in proportion to him wearing himself out though he walks four times as far and twice as fast.
We went exploring the Torch Keys together stopping here and there to check out trails we hadn't walked together in months. I struggled a bit with the walker, taking short steps and lifting it over branches and clumps of grass while he disappeared in the brush.
The great thing about the walker is not only does it have a cup holder I can use to hold my phone while I listen to the radio but it also has a box I can put things in, a bit like Pooh Bear with his empty hunny pot.
Look at these pictures illuminated by the sun getting close to the horizon...
This was what I wanted when we left the house. Rich full colors, long shadows, no one around and I hoped for a few birds flying overhead, making a splash in the water or crowding on tree branches for me to watch. No such luck so I was forced to sit in my walker and meditate.
I think that's part of what I enjoy about life in the Keys, so remote yet so not remote. Every time a shipping company includes the continental US in its range of delivery that includes us. Cool. At the same time we seem so remote from all those kerfuffles I was mentioning earlier, like the political squabbles, and mainland arguments that sometimes seem as remote as if we really were in the Caribbean.
Buttonwood trees reaching for the clear blue sky. Somewhere out there a Chinese spacecraft is sitting on the dark side of the moon, a portent of China's dominance to come, but for me a reminder of Pink Floyd's 1973 album. I am old.
We sat, watched a few cars roll by as the work day ended and I rolled the expedition up with perfect timing arriving back at base just as the sun disappeared and took the day with it. I am so glad I didn't die last August. A day of small things like this one was well worth living for and I look forward to more of them!