Saturday, July 16, 2011

Cayo Hueso: The Rock that Built Me

If you grew up or have visited there, you would know: Cayo Hueso is Key West. Key West is my hometown. You can't begin to imagine how long it has taken me to understand the impact of that statement. Heck, I have only just acknowledged it in the last two weeks. Epiphany of the year!

It would be easy to say that I didn't live there long enough to call it my hometown, and many would agree with that statement. Hell I only attended my last two years of high school there, and then lived there sporadically from '92-'99. I was always running from the small town familiarity that bred gossip and inquiring eyes.

However, longevity has nothing to do with what or where we choose to call home. It is a feeling, a connection, a safe harbor, and the experiences that shaped us that determine where we call home.

I could take credit for this light bulb moment, and go into some long explanation of how I got in touch with my inner emotions...blah blah blah. But that would be a lie, and why lie on MY blog? So this is how it happened, my aha moment. 

There I was, no shit, reading my daughter's facebook status... yes it was a facebook epiphany. I know, the irony. At any rate, my daughter, in her sometimes wise beyond her years way, was saying good-bye to our house in Maryland. She was thanking it for the laughter, the tears, and the comfort. She told our house how it watched her grow up more than any other thing had, and she said how she would never forget it.

Then, as if my tears weren't already flowing from the raw emotion of the post, she added the video/song from Miranda Lambert "The house that built me".

I read.

I cried.

Yes, I suffered through the video, once.

I didn't dare hit play button again on the YouTube video link.

I still cry thinking about the post and the lyrics to the song.

It would be easy to say that it instantly "hit me" while reading the post, but it didn't. It hit when we started the drive to Key West, and I saw familiar surroundings I had not seen since my 10 year class reunion in 2002 (that was the last time I had been to KW.)

It hit me when I drove past 1320 Grinnell Street, the house that built me.

It hit me when my stay was almost cut short and I was forced to make a decision about leaving or staying, and all I could do was cry.

It was then I knew that Key West, for better or worse, was my hometown.

It was the town where I had made life-long friends. It was the town where I have way too many memories to count, both good and bad.

It was the town that shaped me, and forever changed my life. It was the town I grew up in, every bit of the phrase grew up.  For those reasons and many more, it is my hometown.

I no longer have blood relatives in Key West. My phenomenal step-father sold the home we lived in, and has subsequently passed away. (Miss you Papa!)

The house that built me is hardly recognizable. The new owners gutted, remodeled and completely changed the home, my home, which holds/held so many memories for me- to include my wedding day.

Life moves on, and time changes everything- regardless and because.

Change is, but for all that changes, some things stay the same.

The streets retain their old charm. The Old Conchs keep their funky Bubba accent. Tourist shops close and new ones emerge. Sloppy's and Hog's Breath are still entertaining.

Conchs will always wear their athletic gear with pride, and the flats still have the capacity to run a boat aground and force its passengers to get out and push.

I do know one thing, Key West is my hometown and that will not change. Besides, I made it facebook official!

Hometown: Key West.

The Life of a Nomad

OK, so who am I kidding? A nomad? BAHA! Gypsy? Too pejorative. Homeless. Yes! That's more like it. Homeless. The mere sound of it brings a reaction of slightly hysterical laughter which thinly veils the flood of tears which beg for release. Yea yea, you hear the melodrama in that sentence, well it is true. I am on the verge of tears. Change that I can't control often does that to me. Tears and melodrama. Ok ok... I will get to the point. See I have been without a place to call "home" since June 29th, when the the moving company hauled off the last contents of my home. Since then I have been on an East Coast Tour, without the fan fare and groupies. We, and I say we, because at the time Harvey and Alex (hubby & step-son) were with me, drove to Savannah, GA. In the few days we spent here together, we had a blast. We toured Savannah by day and night, drank at the favorite spots, ate delicious food and saw a great Fourth of July fireworks display. Then Harvey took off to Germany and Alex went back to his mom. Matt (my youngest) and I took off to South Florida. Did I forget to mention my grandfather has been in and out of the hospital since mid June? Yes, that too. We stayed in Ft. Lauderdale visiting with my grandparents for a few days, and then Matt and I hit the trail again,  taking off to Key West. Another adventure... best saved for its own blog. Matt and I stayed there for about 5 days, then returned to Ft. Lauderdale. Visited with the old folks again, and stayed there for 3 days. Then Mom, Matt and I came back to Georgia. (Mom was already in Ft. Lauderdale.) Ok, so what's the problem you ask? Has it been fun? Yes. Have I had a roof over my head? Yes. Then what? I miss the idea of knowing that if I wanted to go home, there would be such a place that I could go home to. I don't have that! My home in Maryland has a few odds and ends that I need to dispatch from there, and my other suitcase is at a friend's in PA. My husband is in Germany, and he is living out of temporary military housing, and until tomorrow at 11am, my daughter is with her father. I, we, have no anchor at the moment, and I am feeling every bit of that lost at sea desperation. I'm trying to keep my wits so that I don't spread that frustration to the kids, but I am finding harder and harder to do. The bright spot you ask? Well Harvey is looking for a home for us and with any luck he may have one before the kids and I arrive in Germany on July 26th. Until then, home is where the heart is right? That isn't helpful either as my kids are scattered and my husband is in Germany. What I have left is hope. Hope that this move and these changes will be good and things will work themselves out, and I guess that will have to do.