Mile 0 in Key West

 

I can understand why a Key West vacationer would feel compelled to depart their established life with its demands, duties, and drudgeries to move to the Florida island without expectations nor a job awaiting them.  Having just returned from a week on the six square mile key that defines itself by wood cottages painted in bright pastel hues, lush foliage and flowering trees, mesmerizing sunsets, and turquoise waters, I’m overcome with a sense of longing to call myself a resident of the aptly named Conch Republic.

The Florida Keys are deceptive, having the appearance of being just a handful of small islands. The most recognizable being Key Largo, at the north end, and Key West, the farthest south. The Keys are joined together by a stretch of Hwy 1 and several bridges, one of the most famous being the Seven Mile Bridge which connects Knight’s Key (considered to be part of the Middle Keys) with Little Duck Key, the first of the Lower Keys.  In truth, there are well over a thousand keys, with names as bland as Sand Key and Grassy Key to those with unusual names such as Lignumvitea Key and Bahai Honda Key.  There is even a No Name Key, suitable for those in a witness protection program.

Should one opt for the hundred plus mile drive down to Key West along the at times exasperatingly slow-moving and often single lane highway, one can look forward to unmatched views of tropical island life, grassy marshes, and breathtaking seascapes, as well as outdated, awry  towns , containing rickety shops with make-shift signs, road-side eateries with screened-in picnic tables and hanging fly traps, and tourist attractions with a sort of thespian, old world quality. 

Continue reading “Paradise at Mile 0”

wooden explore sign with arrow

 

I agree that self-confidence is a must-have component to achieving exceptional milestones in life. I see it quite differently when considering the actual fuel that takes us to achieve those sought after great heights.

Self-confidence does not contain octane. Being afraid – as you make your way out onto an untried ledge – does.

A Hollywood director may be lauded for his powerful piece of cinematic art, and yet he reaches that enviable height of success with the same doubts, fears, and anxieties that many face when they, too, endeavor their passion.

Continue reading “Carved in Confidence”

girl black and white profile

 

She wandered into my boutique at five minutes before six in the evening on the very day that I had made the fateful, frightening and excruciatingly painful decision to sell my business and move across the country.  Tapping on her wristwatch she motioned her inquiry as to whether I was getting ready to close.  I was, but opted to shake my head no and gesture her in.  She hesitated.

“Are you sure?” she asked in a distinctive foreign accent. “Yes, please do come in, browse around, I’m in no hurry,” I assured her. 

I tried to pretend the redness in my eyes was not remnants of tears and the hurt in my expression was not telltale of my aching heart.

I cannot say for certain what was said between us in the minutes following.  All I know is that, soon after entering the shop, she was there right in front of me at the counter, and we were engaged in an exchange of thoughts and emotions which I shall never forget.

Continue reading “Valentina”

winter holiday mug and decor

 

The holidays scuttle and clamber into our otherwise scheduled, predictable lives.  We embrace the customs and traditions with a blend of innocent joy mixed with recoiled distress, envisioning the ensuing stress and demands that, we have all learned, are unavoidable, along with an arousing anticipation for the exquisite taste of sugary magic that is inexplicably captured… in a gift or a song… seen in a child’s fascinated face or felt in a warm embrace. 

Reasons abound to be festive…

Vacation time!

When else can red and green be considered fashionable together? From cookies and candies to stationary and ribbons, even ties and socks turn up in bright, bold ebullient colors.

Continue reading “Tinsel Tinged Tale”

life is short enjoy coffee sign

 

My history is littered with remnants of unforgettable encounters.  Briefly written chapters with people who had a moment inside my four walls.  Some simply opened the door and glanced in.  Others seemed interested enough to stay awhile. A few abruptly entered without a welcome, and remained inside my sacred space longer than I was comfortable with.  Some left far earlier than I wanted them to.  And then there were those who I pushed out, without really meaning to.

Who they are and what they mean to me are, at times, obscure notions; but in reality they left an impression upon me that is more consequential, and influential, than I give credit for. 

My grade school teacher with her tie-die skirts, unkempt hair and earthy nature; a boy named “King”; Matthew, a brooding sophomore with James Dean allure and his ‘wrong side of the tracks’ hands under my freshman bra; the Air Force-bound high school wrestler who had my abiding affection through four acne-plagued years; the homely girl up the street whose deeply religious family politely ignored her pregnancy like a crude smell in a crowded elevator; a self-absorbed motorcyclist in love with my mother almost as much as himself; my college friend from a callous foster home who was the first to teach me about courage; the Southern Comfort-addicted disc jockey in Washington DC with eyes sadder than a kenneled dog; the elderly lady and her over-weight cat in the picturesque white Colonial across the street; the married ‘suit’ with daring blue eyes who was clandestinely pursing affairs; the California blonde surfer with an unmatched kiss; the ego from Chicago whose façade was brittle and attitude biting; my homeless friends on M Street; the Texas Catholic boy and his Jars of Clay sexuality; the Hispanic hairdresser and her theatrical girls who embezzled my heart; the Vietnamese girl at the corner café with her surprisingly deep eyes and delicate smile with whom I never shared a spoken word despite in our many delightful, gestural conversations; the tortured comedian in Dallas with his dueling pleasure and pain emotions barricaded inside his conflicted soul… I could go on for pages… unfolding each obsolete name tag which no longer bears a name, only a faded memory.

Our paths intersected and we shared an experience that may or may not remain in the confines of their treasure chest.  As I think of them, I wonder…  who are they now?

Continue reading “In Life’s Midriff”

diamond ring in jewelry box

 

If I want to do a number on my sense of happiness and trash what contentedness lies inside my inner sanctuary of single life, one perusal of the “Weddings / Celebrations” page of the New York Times Sunday edition is all it takes. 

There it is.  

Captured in smiling snapshots- portraits of pure bliss with perfect teeth.  Love told in three or four tidy paragraphs, each one detailing the perfection of the fortunate couple’s life, their union, and the inevitable anticipation of ever after.

“He” is an up and coming executive in an industry where affluence is a by-product of senior management. He has one of those clever three letter titles that doubles for one’s level of worthiness- CEO, CPA, DDS. The groom-to-be’s proud Papa moved on to a late career as a professor at a well respected university. Maybe his alma mater. Commonly father and son attended the same ivy-league school and graduated with a cum laude something tattooed to their esteem.  

“She” studied at the same college as her betrothed (or at a nearby women’s college and merely attended the ivy school’s football games to see her best friend, the head cheerleader). She works as a preschool teacher, or she is a sociologist, and she undoubtedly recently inked a highly acclaimed children’s book.  Her father is a minister.

Continue reading “Newspaper Nausea”

blue birds build nest

 

There is this moment… just before I put on my bedtime modality, as I slip between two inviting ivory sheets… when I feel a hushed and haunting sadness. An unvoiced and sequestered ache. I quietly yearn for someone to lean over and stroke my messy hair.  A familiar presence in a shared space to whisper to… cantabile revelations of my nonsensical thoughts and candy-coated dreams.  To softly kiss goodnight, and to feel, in turn, the warm and wanting touch of affection on my naked soul.  It is in that time, mere minutes, which stretch out into a darkened lacuna, when I am most acutely aware of being alone. 

It’s not necessarily agonizing, just poignantly real. 

Being alone is a complex notion. I have known people, cohesive and coupled, who have families… husbands and wives, children, parents, pets, an overgrown ivy… with someone lying right by their side every night… and yet they feel entirely isolated. 

It’s only now, after years of quiet insularity, have I extinguished a long-lived sense of aloneness.  In these past few years, I have managed to share my providential path with special people who happened upon me, and those who were given birth rights to know me (meaning genetically required to love me!).  

I discovered that bona fide bonds are formed from times of closeness, and from endowing the Beautiful inside each of us.

Continue reading “A Guiled Sanctuary”

red poppy in white flower field

 

In my mid-twenties, when falling in love was still irresistibly frosted and angelic, I scribbled on paper several of my odd and idiosyncratic tendencies to give ‘him’ (whoever ‘he’ was) a better understanding of my strangeness. 

I found the list, over a dozen years later, and I was utterly staggered by what I read.

  • I like to talk to inanimate objects
  • I have an odd affection for my car
  • My nose bleeds at the slightest whiff of trouble
  • I sleep with a teddy bear
  • I have an aversion for underwear, but adore socks
  • I squeeze the toothpaste tube all over the place
  • I cry. Whenever.
  • I have an enduring, intense love affair with water
  • I’m a tad neat (that’s my version of it, don’t ask me to acknowledge its dogmatic nature)
  • I easily and readily amuse myself
  • I’m obsessed with growing anything green (of legal status, of course) but somehow unintentionally torture and kill nearly all things originating from a seed
  • My spirit is reflected in a butterfly in flight
  • My heart is found at sea
  • I giggle when it’s inappropriate
  • I need more attention than most… and willingly whine for it
  • Music moves me… dancing is the best drug ever
  • I get excited over the littlest of things
  • Nothing affects me lightly- emotions run through me like molasses
  • I have an unhealthy adoration for the Boston Red Sox (and Fenway Park), seagulls, pine trees, the dunes of Plum Island, sailboats and fishermen wearing tall pea-green rubber boots, whale watching, trains, bagels, buttercup flowers, cross country skiing, lazy Sundays, a good margarita, an endless kiss, and the ever-inspiring ocean
  • I don’t care what anyone says or what history proves… I believe in love everlasting, unconditional (no ameliorate required), and the faith that two people can be in love (with each other, in case that was unclear) for a lifetime
  • Lastly, I possess an unquenchable thirst to experience my passions.

I realize, these many years later that I allowed too much of that to be put aside… or more accurately, put away. Veiled. Somewhere along the way, I let myself settle into a mediocrity, which was notably void of my quirks, my insanity… absent of my vibrant spirit and my true essence.

Continue reading “Magnificent Oddities”

birds flying at sunrise

 

I remember the moment when I washed off the perfectionist make up, for good.  Eye liner of attitude, the lipstick that lacked appreciation, the rouge of rigidness, the concealer of conceit, the mascara of materialism, and the foundation of flawlessness… artfully dabbed across the cheekbone, disguising a false image, and in no means a tasteful one at that. 

I remember when I stopped living a counterfeit life behind layers of applied ignorance.

It was on a freshly blossomed April day. I sat at an outside cafe, just a block from the blue-green waters of the Pacific Ocean. It was an animated summer weekend day when people are in their ‘comfy’ clothes, less hectic in their movements.  Around me were lanky palm trees gently sweeping the velvet breeze.  Fragrance filled the air from the blooming foliage, scented lushness that grows with ease in the paradise climate of Southern California.

I had, just days earlier, abandoned my impeccably imaged life and my well-paying job in the heart of urban Texas… in the proverbial Southern Bible Belt (which, by the way, is not the ideal place for a principled, forthright, and potent New England girl to take up residency, but I digress).  I put my Corolla on a flat bed trailer behind a rented truck which, alas, managed to hold all of my earthly possessions. I closed the not-exactly-fat bank account, bid farewell to dear friends, and moved my piffling universe to a quaint village called Carlsbad, located on the northern crest of San Diego County along the jam-packed Highway 5 that stretches the Pacific coastline. 

Continue reading “Departing Myself”