And I mean that in the literal sense.
How often can we say we have achieved a life long goal? One of those, in the modern parlance, items on our bucket list. Something that once seemed like only a dream and at times you figured would never happen, suddenly does happen. It has happened to me a couple times over my young life. When I was a kid I wanted to learn how to scuba dive. I was fascinated with being able to live under the water. I loved to watch old Jacque Cousteau specials and any movie that had diving in it. Growing up in the hills of the fine shithole known as the state of Pennsylvania did not offer much diving opportunities. Nor did I receive any encouragement from parents or friends. But, at the age of 24, I had moved to Florida and got my certification. I loved the sport so much I made a career out of it for 9 years. I burned out on it but still have my card and maybe I will get back into again.
Another life long goal. Own a Harley. Loved the bikes and never thought I would own one. That was 17 motorcycles ago. Check off another on the list.
Which brings me to today and another lifelong goal that looks like I will achieve. In 1974 I made my first trip to Florida with a couple of college buddies. (They were in college, I was just there wasting time). We came down in a camper visiting Daytona where I bought my first set of snorkeling gear at the very shop where I would learn to dive 4 years later. Then we headed for the Keys. I was always dreaming of living on an island. Something about it had a great appeal to me. After countless years in the cold rainy depressing climate of Pa. I yearned for someplace tropical with beaches and palm trees. We hit the Keys and I was in love immediately with the place. The long bridges, clear water, warm breezes. Keep in mind this was before that Buffett guy started singing about all this. I was enjoying this trip tremendously but one particular island caught my attention. We spent a little time there but I knew that this was where I wanted to end up living someday. And after 37 years of visits and close calls, it looks like I will finally realize my dream. The Fritter is moving to Key West!
I had been hinting of a move down there lately and I have been scouring the ads for an affordable place to live. Not an easy task. This week I found it. A simple little one room studio at a marina. It’s not much to look at but with my lifestyle it will do fine. The rent is close to what I have been paying for the last three years and the lease is open ended so I am not committed to a long term in case I find a better spot. The location is off the beaten path but in Key West you are not more that 2 miles from anything. There are bike paths all over the island and the bus stop is a block away. Shopping is a mile down the road yet I am away from the tourists and traffic. The marina is in the middle of some upgrades and since they allow liveaboards the chances of perhaps going back on a boat down the road are looking pretty good. The apartment is nothing fancy, in fact it probably would not meet code on the mainland but I don’t care. All I need is a place for me to sleep and keep the cats happy. The rest is all gravy. Although there are some downsides.
Sometimes when you finally do achieve a lifelong goal it may not be what you had hoped for. I have been visiting Key West for 37 years and it ain’t all paradise here. Crime is a big problem. There are some places you simply do not go at certain times of the evening. Traffic can be really bad when there is a special event going on which is pretty much every week. The tourists are here all the time but they do pay the bills so we tolerate them. There is a lot of partying going on here. Hell, the whole Key West economy thrives on it so drunks are a constant issue. Then there are the urban outdoorsman. You may know them by other names, tramps, bums, homeless. I have a few more but I’ll hold off. Every city has it’s share of crazy homeless people but for some reason Key West gets the cream of the crop. If homeless bum was an Olympic sport Key West would have the gold medalists. It is a problem that the city has a hard time dealing with and they are the source of a lot of the crime. But it comes with the territory so you put up with it.
As for the good? It’s fucking Key West! Great restaurants, legendary sunsets, events that would make Carnival in Rio blush. If you have never been here you need to come and see it at least once. And not just the touristy Old Town district either. This is one cool little rock. But I’ll post some more on that aspect later.
Anyways, I am fully aware of the good and the bad that living in Key West will bring and I am good with it. At least I can say I made it. How long it will last? Can’t say. I may high tail it back to Marathon in a couple months or wind up here the rest of my life. But I am here, or at least I will be by the end of next week. Right now I just want to get the move done and settle in. Then it will hit me. The realization of another lifelong dream. Now I can start planning some more.