Before you start writing that nasty letter, let me say. I do not now, nor have I ever professed to, possess the talent of Ernest Hemingway’s pinky toe.
Some of us are meant to live nice, quiet, safe lives, and some of us aren’t. The trick is to know which category you fit into and to become comfortable with that knowledge. At least I said that.
This week has been a frenzy of activity at our house. The first thing I did was go into the closet and remove the shoe box containing my worldly possessions. With my stuff packed, I helped Mary Carmen pack hers. Her stuff meaning two walk-in closets, two storage facilities, our extra bedroom and a friend’s garage.
Got to love her, she decided she would use this opportunity to cull a few things. Now that all is said and done, it’s clear she has. She downsized from 200 pairs of shoes to a scant 199 pairs. She said she cut her 24 hair brushes down to 20, but I found two stashed in a box of corn flakes and fear she has secretly stashed the others somewhere in the truck. I witnessed her giving away six pairs of jeans; they are the only things I’m sure will not make the trip.
I believe, like Hemingway, a writer must be a person of adventure. Therefore, when adventure shakes you out of bed, you best fix a cup of coffee and step out the door behind it. Opportunities have arisen which will allow me to spend as long as it takes to write a couple book on the Keys and in South Florida.
By the time this story hits, Kennesaw, Mary Carmen, Ellie Mae and 199 pairs of mentally disturbed shoes will have already traveled the coastal highway from Jacksonville to Miami. I’ll have already taken a few hundred pictures and tasted some fresh oranges. I’ll already be in search of Jimmy Buffett’s attitude, Ernest Hemingway’s inspiration and the perfect thong bikini.
I will have already accomplished one of my lifelong goals, becoming the whitest white man to ever walk the beaches of South Florida. I may make the Guinness Book of World Records. If you see a troubling story about a whale washed up on South Beach, don’t be alarmed, that’ll be me.
What am I going to make fun of in Florida? Older people are always fun, but older people who deny their Minnesotan heritage scare me. The population of Dade County is over seventy percent Latino; making fun of them might not be politically correct. Beside I’d need to understand them to make fun of them. Good thing I’m traveling with a personal translator. I’ll spend lots of time asking, “What did he say, what da hell and dooooooo what?”
So I will travel for a time in Heming’s way. I will haunt the places where he did play. I will steer by the light he called his own. From the lighthouse that always pointed him home. I will search for the words that might change the world. I will hear the wind sing as the sails unfurl. I will wonder at the words Ernest gleaned from the breeze. I will walk for a time in his footsteps as I please.
In the end, I may not change the world, perhaps it will change me. But imagine through that change all that I might see. I will weather the storms and political pitfalls, too. Then I will write about them and send stories home to you. My birth, a mere sliver of fate, meaning nothing in the thread of time. My path, a twisted turning thing, erratic, but still it’s mine. My end a question, for I know not the place or day.
When I arrive, there will be no doubt I was always on my way. I am not a tree, nor will I be. I am more like the oats that grow along the sea. I will not set roots and will not accept life by degrees. But rather spread by wind and tide slowly across the Keys. Ernest changed our hearts, our minds and our world, while searching for a friend. So I will follow Heming’s way, searching for a better end.
How long will we stay in South Florida? Until I get tired of fresh oranges. Until I get tired of thong bikinis, which I hope is not going to happen. Maybe until the little bugs suck out all my blood, I’ve heard the bugs down there have organized into military units. Until the sun fries the two brain cells I have, it won’t take much.
Stay tuned, the adventure continues, pictures and stories are coming your way.
I’d rather crash into eternity than slip slowly into obscurity. Kennesaw Taylor
You can’t burn out if you’re not on fire. Jim Morrison