Friday, December 30, 2005

I'm feeling privileged this morning, privileged to be able to live here in the Real Key West. Everywhere are tourists. There was a line at the Hemingway House as I rode by their on my bicycle. Foot traffic is heavy on Duval Street. There wasn't a seat for me at the Coffee Plantation when I got there, so I bought my first coffee of the day and walked over to Schooner Wharf to drink it.

It's 11:11 AM, a magical time in the folklore of the Kelly family, a time when our thoughts turn to family and especially to Mother and Father, who were the ones to first notice how often they would see that time (or 11:11 PM, or just 1:11) on the clock, and remark to each other about it.

11:11 was, of course, the time of the Armistice that led to the end of World War II, on 11/11/1945. Dad was a veteran of that war, so it had special significance to him. It became both of theirs, and now is firmly a part of the Kelly family's culture, to be passed on to successive generations, of which there are now four descending from our founders.

Mom is back in a rehab hospital in Albuquerque having experienced another stroke, one that leaves her weak on one side of her body. Our brother Jack, with whose family Mom lives, informs us that she is in good spirits despite the setback. Our sister Betty is flying out on Wednesday for a visit.

Back to what I was saying, seeing all the people who come here to experience just a few days of what we have available to us at all times brings out a sense of entitlement in me, a realization that we are part of a privileged minority of citizens who get to enjoy the unique vibration of this island, the unknown quantum that makes it such a special place.

No matter where our path may lead us next, we will always have the memories of here, good and bad, to carry with us.

I'm reminded of a story, one that I first heard told in a recording from an obscure group of performers known as Celestial Navigations. The piece is called "The Lunch Stop". It describes a journey begun from the East Coast to the West by a traveller who stops for lunch at various places, and interrupted by stays of greater and greater length until he says "I completely forgot where I came from and I forgot where I was going."

You can listen to a portion of it here. I have a collection of all of their recorded performances on CD. I wish I could point to a place to listen to it all. Maybe that will be possible one day. Credit to a friend in Pennsylvania (yes, I do "have a friend in Pennsylvania", several in fact, though we don't stay in touch very much) who knew the group when they used to perform in the Washington, DC area, and first played their stuff for me.

We know now that we haven't arrived at our final destination, that Key West is not the end of our journey, merely a Lunch Stop. But it's comfortable here for now, we enjoy our lifestyle, are fulfilled by the work we do, and have more real friends than at any time before in our lives. But someday, we're just going to have 'em add up our tab and mosey on down the road until we reach another lunch stop a little further on. As long as we don't forget where we're going. Or where we came from.

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