I stopped by that marina again yesterday to see if indeed they had any open slips available come July. No. But I will keep checking back. Sent an email off to the city marina to see what they might have. No answer. Not surprised there. I will probably have to go and beg on bended knee for an audience with the grand poobah in charge of rationing slips to the great unwashed.
While at the other marina the office girl did give me the name of someone who owned a floating house in the marina with four apartments. I looked at the houseboat, which didn’t look too seaworthy, but gave him a call anyways. 1 bedroom, 1 bath, partially furnished, central air, all the usual. I’m thinking around $1000 to $1200. $1800! Thank you. (Click).
So you can see what I am up against here. Better to be finding all this out now instead of later when I may not have but hours and not weeks or months to get out. This is why I am being proactive on getting another slip or something else. I can chose to be picky, and not be boxed into something I can’t afford.
What I really don’t want to happen, but I am afraid it will, is to wind up with nothing affordable in Key West, and have to move back up the islands to Marathon or even Key Largo. It could take a very long time to be able to come back down here and while the move is only 50 miles or so, there is a big difference in the islands. I do like Marathon and it has all I want and need. It just doesn’t have the character nor does it have as many opportunities as Key West. Still, it’s an easy $8 round trip by bus back to Key West when I need to come down. But, I would just as soon stay here someplace.
And there is always the cruising option. Go find the boat I want, stay here as long as I can. Fix the boat up for some serious moving on the water stuff. And start plotting a course around the Keys and Florida waters. Find all the little hidden islands, marinas, gunkholes, and other places to stay. Try to operate the app business where enough income is coming in to support my lavish lifestyle and get on any waiting lists for slips back here. A bit risky but fun. Problem is that most marinas will charge more for short term visits as opposed to month longs. Unless I stay on the hook, rent will not be much less.
Nothing is simple. As I look around at land based alternatives I am starting to realize how little I want to go back to apartment living. Some of the rv ads which speak in car dealerese make me want to puke at the thought of dealing with another vehicle, even one I can live in. Leaving the Keys and going back to the mainland someplace is not an option. Never was. I might enjoy a cruise up the ICW or around the state, but moving back to someplace like Orlando ain’t happening. It’s either the Keys, or that other group of islands I mention every now and then.
For those of you who live on the mainland, in houses and apartments, and own vehicles, and do your “normal” life routines, it’s about impossible to explain island life and why it appeals so much to me. Island attitudes are different. People seem more content, despite the financial hardships. Phrases like “Living on island time” or “Key’s disease” are not just buzz words. They describe very real conditions here. All I need to do sometimes is just take a bike ride around the island to remind myself how special it is on this rock. Even when I go to the store, I ride along the ocean. I remember once coming out of the old Publix and a family of tourists was walking in. The mother said to the kids, “Look, you can see the ocean across the street from the grocery store!”. The kids weren’t impressed but you could tell the mother was. It’s all that little stuff that makes island living worth it. Riding through the gingerbread neighborhoods of Old Town. The sunsets. The chickens running loose on the streets. The drag queen riding the pink scooter wearing way too much cologne. It’s Key West, it’s the Florida Keys. There ain’t no other place like it in the world. And no matter how many Pritam Singhs come here and throw money around, it will still be the Keys.
Next week I will be making my annual pilgrimage to Pa. to visit family. We’ll eat a lot and then drive around my old stomping grounds, look at the house I grew up in, visit graves, and talk about things past. To me, it will be like visiting a foreign country. I might just as well get a Conch Republic passport because I will feel like a complete stranger there. I will see people I have known for years, relations and friends. And when we talk about our lives, my life here on the island is a complete polar opposite of how these people live. The idea of not owning a vehicle is completely lost on them. They simply cannot conceive of life without a vehicle. They have no conception of living on a boat. They don’t know anything about tides, currents, nor navigation. The concept of walking around barefoot is totally alien to them. Most of their skin has never seen sunlight. All they know about Key West is Buffett and booze. Those few who may have come here for vacation did nothing more than get a sunburn, a t-shirt, and a hangover. They have no idea of all the hidden treasures here. The mangroves where we run our kayak tours, the reefs, hell, they are surprised we even have flushing toilets here. (Exactly where I would love to know). You can’t find any Key Lime Pie anywhere up there. (But they do have Middleswarth Potato chips!). The weather will be cold and rainy. You won’t find a palm tree anywhere. There are these large land masses that get in the way of the sunsets. Mountains, I believe they are called. I still can’t believe that I lived up there for 23 years. And nobody up there understands why I left. To them, the valleys and dells of Pa. are the greatest place in the world and why would anyone in their right mind ever want to leave such a wonderful place.
I guess we all have someplace we like to call home. Here in the Keys, I may not have much, but it does feel like home. The weather is right, the water is right, and I can put up with all the downsides just fine. I have no idea what the coming storm will bring my way. I may have to leave Key West for a little while, I may end up finding another place and be here the rest of my life. But I am pretty damn sure that no matter what, for the rest of my life, an island will always be home.