I left the mainland I long time ago, it just never seemed to fit me. Being on it felt like I was wearing one of those animal print Christmas sweaters that are too tight and really itchy. My mom said I had to put it on because my grandmother gave it to me and that’s what you had to do. All I wanted was to rip off scratchy Rudolph get the hell out of dodge and put on some shorts. Unfortunately, the airlines frowned on giving a flight to a 10 year old and the sweater had to stay. (Even if it gave me a strange rash.) Lucky I got old enough to ride a plane all by myself and ended up in Key West where animal sweaters are unheard of and I wear shorts everyday.
Living in Key West is weird. Stay here long enough and it makes you unsuitable for any other place. I realize it every time I go back to the main land that I am no longer able to properly function in the real world. Don’t get me wrong, I can talk to people, go out to dinner, drive a car and do all the things you need to in order to function in everyday life. I just get completely freaked out and feel like I am watching myself in an 80’s movie. Soon I begin to twitch and try to flip the channel by jumping back in my car, pushing it to 88 so the flex capacitor kicks in and scream down Route 1 to go the back in time to The Keys where I feel normal.
After ten yeas on the rock I have gotten so used to the everyday life of sunshine, smiles and the ground hog day attitude that comes along with living in Key West, that I forget that most of the United States (excluding New Orleans of course) is stuck in the world of 9 – 5 jobs, cubicles and crappy weather. I have realized that things that make me feel at home and normal here like drinking all day, 80 degree weather year round and the occasional drag queen at the super market buying vegetables are the same attributes that make people visit here to get away from their mundane lives and scratchy sweaters. People always ask me, “What is it like to live here?” I never really know how to answer. It’s everything, fun, strange, boring, weird, hot, scary, busy, funny, stupid, dramatic, drunk and the list goes on.
Living in Key West is an interesting thing to explain. It’s like a telling someone about drugs or sex or a Grateful Dead concert. Difficult to elaborate unless you have been down that road. Alas, I am going to do my best with this weekly column to give you an insight of what it is like to live here, what happens on just your average Wednesday, what it is to be a Key West local.
I have several jobs to draw from: I am a writer, bartender, DJ, burlesque performer and filmmaker. I also have many hobbies to share with you as well, competitive bocce, bowling, running, and yoga, mixed martial arts. And I will take on things that really freak me out in order to give you my perspective, diving, deep-sea fishing, and drag shows (okay they don’t freak me out at all) to share with you all the beauty of living in Key West.
Take off the itchy sweater, crack a cold one, put on some shorts and get ready for the life of a Key West local.