It’s the beginning of summer, the weather, heat and humidity aside, has been beautimus. The winds have calmed and the waters are clear and warm. Things are kinda quiet around the island as we get a brief respite before the 4th of July and Lobster Season kick in. You would think everyone would be happy around here. Not so much it seems.
Everywhere I go lately, people on this island are in a bad mood. Whining, complaining, sniveling, and all about stupid shit. I had the joy of being held up in the check out line at the grocerteria over the weekend because some fat bitchy woman took offense to the cashier speaking Haitian to the bag girl. It’s their native tongue and they were no doubt making small talk about something unrelated, but the woman got all bothered, demanding that because this was the United States, they were required to speak English at their jobs. She went so far as to demand to see a manager, holding up an entire line of people who just wanted to pay for their food and move on with their lives. The incident was so unimportant and blown out of proportion. The fat woman did nothing more than show her ignorance and intolerance for another race of humans. What makes it even more silly is here in Key West, which gets visitors from all over the planet, and a few from other worlds, you can walk across town and here every language from Mandarin Chinese to Klingon.
Who gives a shit? The cashier and bag girl sure as hell weren’t talking about anyone in the line, I’m reasonably sure. All the fat woman did was make an ass of herself, and probably got the cashier in trouble. For nothing. But it was just an example of the mood everyone seems to be in around here.
To be honest, as cool and fun and wonderful as life sounds like it should be living in Key West, (just ask the Chamber of Commerce), it’s tough to get by here. Money, or an extreme lack of it, is the main issue for most people. Low wages, high rents, and the ever present quest to live that “American Dream” bullshit that gets shoved down our throats since birth. I continue to try to point out, in vain most times, that it is near impossible to live a middle class lifestyle in Key West. Those who try, and don’t have the means, and few do, fail miserably. They work hard, make poor choices for living quarters, insist on having all the trappings of the “good life” like new furniture, a vehicle, expensive clothes, and overpriced cable packages. And on top of that, because they are in Key West, the party always beckons. And the party ain’t cheap. It don’t take too long for the income to no longer cover the out go, and life goes downhill real fast.
With the money problems then, comes the stress. You take on a second job, you no longer have time to go to Duval for the party, you start falling behind on bills, and if you are in a relationship, things really go into the shitter. Suddenly, you are no longer in a happy island mood.
You may be fine with working two jobs and maybe downsizing the living arrangements from that 3 bedroom/2 bath to an efficiency. But your significant other may not be so inclined. Arguments become a daily routine. Fights become commonplace. That, “’til death do you part” vow, becomes a dare. Things can get ugly fast and it will have a detrimental effect on everything you do. I’m seeing it now with a few people I know and it’s really sad to watch.
And then there is the party itself. For some, the lure of going out just about every night and whooping it up on Duval is just too much to resist. Forget the costs, and it can cost a lot of money, all that drinking will just aggravate the stress from work, from money issues, and relationship issues. Throw in some drug use, and you’ll find yourself floating down a boat channel, drunk and drowning, only to be rescued by some brave and gallant kayak guides.
In the end, you wind up leaving Key West, a whole lot poorer, and with a permanent bad taste in your mouth for all things island living, (not to mention all that tequila you drank). Your credit is ruined, your relationship gone, and if you are real lucky, you can take a shiny new arrest record back north with you. You’ll return to the place from whence you came, get that worker bee job, and spend the rest of your days getting drunk in the bar around the corner, bragging to the barmaid about how you used to live in Key West, but secretly you are bitter that the island dream didn’t work out according to your cunning plan.
But let’s be honest here. Island life, which has it’s good points to be sure, is not a whole lot different from living on the mainland. You still need to live someplace. You’ll probably kinda sorta want an income. You’ll need to buy some of that food thingy now and then to keep you alive. You know, the basics of life. Where everyone runs into trouble, is when they fail to take these things into account, along with the economic realities of living here. All most people see is party, island, party, water, party, etc. They listen to island music by that Buffett feller, believe the lyrics to the songs are actually an instruction book on how to live here, and then come down and fail in the process.
Sure, it ain’t always beer and skittles here at the end of the world. Nobody is happy all the time, at least nobody who is sane. There will be down times as well as happy times. But if one were to research, insert shameless plug for ebook here, then perhaps one would be more better prepared for the realities of island life. And by doing so, reduce the bad times significantly.
Personally, I’m feeling way more better this summer than I was during the past year, for obvious reasons if you have been following this blog. If not, go back to May of last year to follow the saga of the marina from hell. My financial situation is not good at the moment, but when has it ever been good? I’ve been in way more dire straits when it comes to money issues when I lived on the mainland than I am now. I was up to my ass in debt with mortgages, credit cards, vehicle payments. Those were some seriously bad times in my life. Now? I am learning to take it all in stride. Every month is a challenge to make the rent, the iPhone bill, and feed my fat ass. I am finally building a mobile and simple business that has much potential as an income source. I get to do some kayaking now and then. I am having a blast with this here blog. (Never thought it would turn out like it did thanks to you loyal readers). I have the boat as an asset, not up to the condition I want, but it remains an asset that provides me with shelter, transportation if needed, and a home for the fur balls. I long ago gave up the party and rarely go downtown for any reason unless there is something special going on. My relationship is in great shape. Because I ain’t got no relationship to worry about! WooHoo!!! I’ve adapted to island life rather well and it is slowly becoming what I envisioned it too be. A little more time, a killer app here or there for income, and life will be good.
Yeah, I get down now and then. Minor things really, but nothing like before. I got no reason to be unhappy at the moment. I am living on a sailboat in Key West.
Listen my Fritters, and learn. I will repeat myself on this blog often but it bears repeating. If indeed you have an itch to come to Key West, or the Florida Keys, to live, you must do the research and be prepared to make significant changes in your lifestyle if you want to successfully remain down here for the long term. Sacrifices may have to made. Downsizing is a given. Getting the significant other to be on board will be tricky. Living on an island, even one still attached to the mainland, is not going to be what you are used to up north. If you fail to adapt, you will wind back up north, a lot poorer for the experience. It took me 30 years from the first time I set foot on the island until I was ready to move here. I passed up other opportunities to come down because things just didn’t seem right and I wasn’t in a minimalist state of mind just quite yet.
But, the wait was worth it. At least I say that now. There were times when I was behind on bills, without an income, and wondering how I was going to survive, where things didn’t seem worth it. But now, it’s all good. I also realize that at anytime, something can occur that would force me to leave my island dream. A major storm, another asshole developer, who knows. I’m equally prepared for that scenario as well. I look at the time I have been here and the time going forward as a bonus for all the pain I went through of wanting to come here and live. If I am here to the bitter end, or if I had to leave in a few weeks, it’s ok.
But no matter what happens, one thing is for sure, I ain’t in a bad mood near as often as before.