“Do you think we can function in normal society after six months in the Keys?” asks my girlfriend who,like me, hails from big-city, civilized northern climes. We are lounging by a pool, sipping girlie drinks.
She is going home for a few weeks. I am going to D.C. for a long weekend and a Jr. High School reunion party. (Yes, Jr. High. More on that.)
“I honestly don’t know,” I laugh. Honestly, I don’t.
I live in a place that is small town at it’s best and worst. I live where drinking a mimosa at 8 a.m. is considered a nod to the nutritional value of vitamin C. I live where everyone smokes cigarettes everywhere, and no one judges it.
I live where water surrounds us, and everyone either works it or plays in it. I live where we have a love-hate relationship with tourists, even as we depend on them for our very livelihoods. I live where everyone considers it to be a paradise, and all hope someday they can be as lucky as I am to land here.
But what about when you leave here, if only for a long weekend? Sure, I go to Fort Lauderdale now and then, but even there the palm trees still sway and the party-hard world still rocks.
“I guess we’ll cut down on smoking,” my friend says.
“I guess we won’t drink so much,” I add.
“Maybe we’ll never want to come back,” my friend says.
“Oh, I will. My dog will be here,” I laugh.
“I’m kind of nervous about it, though,” she says.
“Me too,” I agree.
We lay back on our chaises and try to relax for more than 5 minutes before the intense sun and humidity will force us back into the pool that is thankfully chilled.
“I never go to a pool up north until August,” says my friend.
“One summer I never got in a pool because the weather was so crappy,” I tell her.
“I won’t wear close toed shoes no matter what,” she says.
“I’m only bringing my best flip flops,” I say.
“Do you think we’ll miss it here?” she asks,taking a sip of her pink drink.
Miss the scenery? Yes. Miss the laid-back-till-you-fall-over attitudes? Sort of. Miss the daily question of “How did I land here and what the hell am I doing with my life?” Whatever.
“You have to come back,” I say. “You have to.”
“I will,” she assures me, but I am not so sure. She has had a tough time of it. But through it all, we have laughed and laughed ’till we have cried–and sometimes we have just cried.
“Don’t make me track you down,” I laugh.
“Ha!” she laughs.
My friend will be seeing family and friends. I will be seeing friends I have known since the awkward ‘tweens, and many since grade school. My friend and I are spending one night in Fort Lauderdale to “transition” before early-morning flights on Friday. We have plans to visit our old haunts and gaze longingly at stores that sell something other than over-priced sundries or bait.
“Are you going to have a drink on the plane?” she smiles.
“If I can stay awake,” I laugh.
We agree to raise our airplane vodkas at approximately 7:30 a.m. and toast one another.
I know I will have fun. I hope she does, too.
I also know I am coming back to my pretty Keys house and quirky Keys job and all the Keys craziness in between. I so hope she comes back to her Keys life, too. But I don’t know. I don’t know that she knows.
Safe and sane travels to us both, my friend. xo