I am back from a few days in Key West--it seemed like millions of people had a similar idea. And there were more on their way yesterday; the southbound traffic had slowed to a stop as we made our way north.
In many ways, the car trip is one of my favorite parts about a trip to Key West. It's just so gorgeous, for so much of the trip, the sea stretched out on either side of the car, all the different colors contained in a single ocean.
I've written about Hemingway's house before, in this post and this post with pictures. Luckily, we didn't want to go to Hemingway's house this trip; the line for the house stretched down the block.
We traveled with my mom and dad. We are not barhopping types. We didn't have a long shopping list. We're impatient with crowds. In many ways, you might wonder what we were doing in Key West. There were many moments when we wondered the same thing.
But we did have a great time--just not in the way you would expect. As you first get to Key West, around mile marker 5, you see a sign for the botanical gardens. And so, we went. We expected lovely gardens, which we experienced, along with butterflies.
We didn't know we'd find a part of the park with neat musical instruments for us to play. How neat to stand with the thunder rumbling in the distance, making music of our own.
The most moving part of the garden was off to the side, along with a chapel. If you knew it as there, you wouldn't even have to pay--although the $7 entry fee is a bargain, especially in an inflated place like Key West.
It was an interesting collection of boats used by refugees fleeing Cuba, a sculpture garden of a different type.
Faithful readers of this blog know that I've written about tiny boats before, most notably the colonial boat at Charlestowne Landing and the boats used by refugees, especially Cuban refugees (see this collection of posts and readings of Elisa Albo's "How to Make a Raft"). But I'd never actually seen any of the Cuban boats.
I am amazed that people would take these chances. It puts me in a reflective mood. I think about what people are willing to risk for what so many of us take for granted.
We travelled with my parents, who are retired military, so we went with them to the various naval bases around the island. Again, it was interesting to reflect on the sacrifices people make so that regular folks like me can lead our lives.
We finished our time in Key West by watching the episode of American Masters about musician Marvin Hamlisch. What a great artist and all around great guy. It reminds me that we're here on this earth for a very short time, and it may be shorter than we think. Somehow, it seemed a fitting end to the type of Key West trip we'd just had. It is time to think about what's really important.
Unlike Marvin Hamlisch, I haven't had my greatest artistic acclaim as a young person. I assume that I haven't written my best work yet. That show reminded me that if I continue to lose focus, I may not have a chance to do my best work.
Yet the Hamlisch show also reminds us that the work isn't going to be enough. We also need to pay attention to our relationships. One of Hamlisch's great losses was his mom; one of his great joys was finally finding a soul mate.
Above, you see me with my mom, Key Largo in the background. I'm lucky that my parents are both alive and in good shape. I'm lucky to be able to say the same thing about my spouse. I'm happy that most of my friends are in good health. I want to be able to find ways to be more present for them all.
Ah, to live a life in balance: the writing with the relationships with the other creative work with that which must be done to pay the bills and stay healthy. It's my continuing quest, as I suspect it is for many a creative thinking person.
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