What is it that attracts us to a place? Does it remain the same through life?
Last year, after a long hiatus, my husband and I decided to vacation in Key West. We used to come here for a yearly getaway while living in college and then when newly married. In the 1950’s it seemed more remote than it does today, traffic and development have increased with few benefits that I can see. It could be easy to fall into the “you should have seen it 50 years ago syndrome,” but my memory is not keen enough to have a clear image of what it all used to look like. All that I really recalled clearly was the lure of the oceans surrounding the keys. Depending on where you live and your life experiences, Key West probably means different things to you than it does to me.
If from the West Coast, probably nothing.
If from the East or Mid-West:
T shirt shoppes, bad art galleries and thousands of cruise passengers looking for Paradise on Duval Street?
If of a certain age:
Lily Pulitzer? Sloppy Joes?
Ernest Hemingway/Tennessee Williams/literary history (It’s almost an obsession here. Stay away from his house if you’re allergic to cats.)
If still in college:
Gorgeous sunsets? water, water? blue, aquamarine, turquoise. JImmy Buffett
Key lime pie? Stone crabs?
roosters? Roosters and chickens can appear anywhere at any time. It adds to the Bahamian feel of the place. Sometimes they frighten me if they all of a sudden crow loudly when I don’t see them in nearby bushes. I imagine them snickering at me from their hiding spots when they see me jump in fear.
I had a few hazy memories of Key West in the early ’60’s, nothing that matches the current reality. No matter. Many of the things I’m drawn to are intact. This trip, I was blown away by the numbers of historic buildings here. Stuff rarely got torn town so that most everything that survived the fire of the late 1880’s is still remaining. Thanks to the lgbt community, the once dilapidated remains have largely been restored and probably never looked better. Key West now has the largest number of wooden historic houses of any town or city in the USA.