Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Mangrove Walk

I must be feeling better as Tuesday was a full day for me. Up at four shivering round the neighborhood with a happy dog followed by four hours at work as Tuesday is my "short day." That is to say a four hour shift added to the twelve hour shifts each week equals a forty hour work week...The pain being that I was home with the awful hound at ten. He went to sunbathe on the deck and I went to bed for a quick nap...Two and a half hours later my trusty alarm woke me from a deep sleep and I set off back into town for another round of physical jerks at Body Zone. I admit, I was snuffling and using half the weights I usually use in class but I made it through the 90 minutes led by the redoubtable Irish Rose called Paula who is merciless...and effective. Bloody hell. Back in the car to Rusty and finally some time alone in the mangroves together.
I suppose I could have headed off to the Tropic for a movie or a stroll for some pictures of people or viewing some art at The Studios but this is my last week of overtime as our staffing is getting juggled around at work. We are short two dispatchers and my colleagues wanted a share of the bounty of overtime I have been enjoying so I am glad to get a break starting next week to enjoy some time away from 911.
In winter there is a neediness in Key West that veers far away from crime and into the realms of bad neighbors. I have no opinion about parking and fence hopping and all the minor infractions of daily living as I am fortunate or smart enough to live in the suburbs in a quiet street with lots of off street parking and neighbors I do occasionally talk to when I am around. In Key West where I take police calls it seems people's nerves are shredded by badly parked cars and errant tree limbs and loud noises and all the stuff that in Mayberry were taken care of by a kindly word and perhaps a berry pie as a gift to cover for monetary thoughtlessness. Perhaps I exaggerate a trifle but the fact that neighbors are afraid to talk to each other, to discuss a problem, to try to find a compromise and resort to calling the police over every little thing strikes me as sad.
I am grateful for the work, and glad of the job security, but two out of state registered scooters parked on a Key West street shouldn't provoke suspicion should they? Happily my job is to send a cop to investigate and when they report back no violations I set the call aside. Now I work on day shift the midnight brawls and drunken domestic disputes are much more the province of the night dispatchers still holding down the night shift in my absence.I'm enjoying living the difference, though I do miss my afternoon walks with Rusty before I cam into work, I equally enjoy dinner at home every night and also setting aside the petty squabbles and the occasional profoundly unhappy call. People do our each other in Key West, the difficulties of living in an expensive community create awful stress and the dams do burst but then I get to walk in the silence of the woods with my camera and my dog.
It restores my equilibrium. I am helping myself this year by avoiding politics and thus also avoiding Facebook, sticking to posting pictures and looking at pictures on Instagram and studying digital photography to replace my interest in motorcycles which is waning a bit in the face of my recently discussed encounters with constantly distracted drivers in the Keys. You can hardly blame them really and I try to sit back a bit on my commute and think what it must be like to see bridge after endless bridge over open water  for the first time with those long strange horizons rising up no higher than sea level, and all from the front seat of your rental vehicle on your way to the mythical destination. There really is nowhere in the world like the Keys, this extravagance of highway connecting tiny specks of land for mile upon mile all the way to nowhere. Who but the United States could imagine or afford such a place?
I am enjoying being sixty two as well oddly enough. I read that Britain wants to end all sales of internal combustion vehicles by 2035 and I thought to myself that sucks, as I am a child of the internal combustion era and have thoroughly enjoyed it. Then I did some sums on my fingers and realized I'd be 74 by then if I am even alive. I shall probably be able to slip in a car or motorcycle at that late stage, late enough to be a dinosaur but not too late to still see gasoline sold by the roadside and spare parts to still be stocked on the shelves. It is coming home to me that the world is changing which is no surprise but what is a revelation is that I am rapidly becoming irrelevant: and that is  something I have to come to terms with!
The interesting thing for me is that irrelevance on the larger stage is quite enjoyable. When I was a youngster everything seemed rather urgent as the political issues of the day promised life and death decisions that needed youthful intervention. Of course in a sense they were just that for someone somewhere but the issues were more complex and politics more nuanced than I could imagine when I was 25 and everything was good and bad.  I have discovered that it is a tad bit grandiose to imagine that US foreign policy is going to change much, or necessarily for the better, based on anyone's heart felt activism. At this stage I feel as though today's youngsters can make those choices and fight those fights and hopefully do a better job than we ended up doing. Indeed I recall in my twenties thinking what a muck the previous generation had made and now the youngsters look at us wondering what we were thinking leaving them a planet in such chaos.
Much better to look inward and retreat from the vagaries and drama of the world and of work where young people around me have that same intensity critiquing each other's work performance and private lives. As the oldest of old farts I am exempt from participation not least because I want nothing to do with the drama queens of either camp. I have retreated from all responsibility for anything other than my own work and I like it that way very much. I have lost  the intensity of youth and I am relieved. There is serenity to be found among the mangroves.
We walked, we ran (he ran really) and I set my alarm for 3:45 am as Wednesday, today is another fun day of taking calls, holding their hands and sending help to unravel the Gordian knots into which they manage to tangle otherwise simple lives. We are so lucky and I have to look at the former street dog who knows the value of a quiet home and routines and the ability to sleep uninterrupted to remind myself of that great good fortune. Most problems are first world problems. Only a  few problems are really life threatening and they are the ones that need our undivided attention. Sleep is the reward for paying attention.