With the drunk, unemployed landlord now on his 3rd week of the current binge, coupled with his fat, ugly, obnoxious, foul mouthed, free loading, whore, who he fights with all day, and makes up with all night, I’m starting to realize I’m going to have to make a move very soon. Unfortunately, said move is probably going to mean leaving the Keys for awhile. I’m trying to hold on best as I can but things are not looking too good. Unless a good deal comes up on a boat or another place, or the gofundme really kicks in, I may have to head north into the nether regions of Central Florida. Something I really, truly do not want to do. But my patience and sanity are at a breaking point with this white trash bullshit.
The upside is I am making very good progress on the book. It’s real easy to write once you have all the plot points, characters, and other aspects laid out. It’s really just a matter of typing now. I’m surprised I’ve been able to get anything done with all the noise but it is coming together.
In the meantime, as I was looking and planning an escape to the north, I was looking at bus and train routes on the maps when I got a bit nostalgic and started looking up old places where I used to live. Don’t know why, but I just did out of curiosity. So, rather than boor you with more tales from the trailer trash hilton, let’s take a journey back in time to see where Capt. Fritter came from.
Are you ready? (Hint: that phrase is a key to the book. Remember that.)
This hovel was where I spent most of my childhood. I wasn’t born here but we lived here when I was just starting kindergarten, left and returned when I was 1/2 way through 5th grade. The place has been fixed up a bit since I remember it. My room was on the other side to the right. Where the grey car is used to be an old barn. My grandfather used it to store supplies for his business and we had use of the garages for our cars.
This place was a toxic waste dump when I lived in it. Asbestos in the ceilings, lead paint, and under the porch on the right, a coal shoot. Most of the houses in this town were built the same way. Combined with the paper mill up the road a couple of miles and this place was full of cancer and lung disease. It killed my father, grandfather, and uncle.
Most of the memories I have of this place are bad. We moved away to Maryland when I was about 6. I had a lot of good friends there, even enjoyed school. But we had to move back and when we did, my life went down hill fast. I didn’t have many friends around here, hated the schools, and could not wait to get out. It there was one good thing this place did, it was convince me I had to get out of Pa.
The dream house:
Not mine, my parents. They decided they wanted a real house even though the other place was basically free. It was owned by my grandfather. They found this place out in the country in a small village. As houses go, it was pretty nice. My parents added in the patio you see on the left. The outbuilding on the right was my dad’s bar. His pride and joy. They loved this place spending most all their time fixing it up. My father died in his bed here, surrounded by family.
For me, I only lived here for a short time. When we moved I only had a year and a half of school to go. I came and went as I tried college, but left for warmer climates soon after. It was always my parents home, but never really felt like mine. I had no sentimental attachment to the place. My father got angry with me several times when I told him I would never live in it. It just had no interest to me. Upkeep was constant, and there was no way I was coming back from Florida to live there. Not long after my father died, my mother sold the place. She misses it but realizes it was for the best. No way she could handle the place by herself. I was relieved when it sold. One less thing to worry about down the road.
Well, it seemed like the smart thing to do at the time. Buy a house, they said. It’s a good investment, they said. Yeah about that. 2 bedrooms, 1 bath, garage on a 1/4 acre in a suburb north east of Orlando. I was just starting out in the Harley business, 35 years old, and made the fool decision of buying this place. It took about a year to realize I had made a mistake. I lost my job at the dealership, struggled to find another, almost lost the place, but managed to hang on somehow. I refinanced a couple of times as interest rates came down but no matter how I tried, I couldn’t seem to knock down the principle every month.
I quickly got sick of all the maintenance, little of it that there was. Hated cutting the grass. Every stray cat in the neighborhood hung out in the back yard. (This was pre KC and Charley days.) The place was ok. It was more just a place to keep my stuff. It never really ever felt like home. I filled it with all the trappings of a typical home. Furniture, appliances, the garage held a tool box, kayak, the harley. I could never fit a vehicle in there.
Surprisingly, I stuck out here for 13 years, the longest I lived in any one place in my life. In 2002, minimalism had it’s grip on me and I was getting ready to head to the Keys for my first foray. When I left, I had a Ranger pick up. In it was one cat, a computer, clothes, kitchen stuff, and tools. What I couldn’t sell stayed with the new owner. Happiest day was when I closed the sale and got rid of the place. It was such a relief.
And about that whole investment thingie? I paid $45,000 for this place in 1989. Sold it in 2002 for $65,000. I could go back to that town and probably buy this place or something very similar in the $45,000 range. Real estate there just stagnated.
In between those houses was a long list of apartments, rooms, rv’s, and boats. One thing I have learned is I am not cut out to be a home owner. I have no handyman abilities and the last thing I want to do is putter about in the back yard or spend weekends fixing stuff. I get bored easily if I stay put for too long and the itch to travel is too great now. There may well be a time down the road when I am too old to do said travel and I will have to settle down. But not now. And when the millions from the book royalties start to roll in, the temptation will be there to buy a place just so I have a base of operations to come home too. Without roommates, at least without human roommates. Well, we will worry about such a thing when it happens.
It’s still kinda strange though. None of those houses I lived in ever felt like home. Yet Key West, despite all the bullshit, all the trouble, through all the struggles, does feel like home. I feel like this is a place where I belong. Even when I travel, Key West is the place to return to. To regroup. To begin anew. I can’t ‘splain it, it just feels like home. This may all change when I hit some other islands but right now, Key West is it.
It’s been quite a journey. From the slums of central Pa. to the end of the world here in Key West. There will be more travel, more adventures, but I doubt, at least at until age catches up with me, I will ever stop. Too much to see and do to be wasting my time at the hardware store every weekend taking care of some honey-do list. Life is just too damn short to worry about crab grass or the leaky faucet in the bathroom. With a boat it was a bit different. One, you had to keep up with maintenance otherwise things got real wet real fast. And B., not that I ever did, but if you did get bored with where you were, you could pull up the anchor, set the sails and head off to new adventures.
For now, we will see what happens here. The current situation is a glitch and it will get corrected soon. I have the bug out bag at the ready, always keeping an eye on airfares, bus schedules, and train routes. Anything could happen, and probably will. Things will be more better soon.