Last winter was hard. Some days it was flailing-nervous-breakdown hard. It was my last year of school, I was just back from a 2-year leave of absence after my dad died, I was broke, I was barely talking to my sister, and it was COLD. And I lived in Boston, which felt like a trap. I wanted to be anywhere but there. But I did it–I got through the winter; I graduated. I even graduated with honors. And the day after graduation, I packed everything I had in my friend’s van, and I left Boston. I went home, to Martha’s Vineyard, to make money to get to wherever I ended up next. I knew it would be tropical, and a place where I could make money in the winter, because I’m further in debt now than I’ve ever been. Looking forward to it was one of the biggest things that helped me get through school.

I was originally thinking Puerto Rico, but halfway through the summer I changed my mind and decided to move to Key West for the winter. A few friends from the Vineyard spent winters there, and said the money was great, the town was great, the people were great. Sold, I said. A month or so later, my best friend decided he was going to Key West too, and we decided to make a road trip of it. So we packed the bare minimum of our things into his ratty Ford Econoline van, along with his dog Ivy (who is definitely one of my top 10 favorite people), and hit the road.

It took us five days to get to Florida. To avoid traffic in New York, we took I-81, the truck route, which wound through upstate New York, Pennsylvania and Virginia. We missed an exit a couple of times and re-routed rather than turning back, which brought us deep into Tennessee at one point–a blessing, as we found ourselves in the Great Smoky Mountains in the wee hours, under full moonlight, with the mountains painted in layers of purple on the horizon. From there, we went through small bits of both North and South Carolina, and into Savannah, where we happened upon a free blues festival in Forsyth Park (!!). The next day, we drove to Del Ray Beach, Florida, where we stayed for a gluttonous and relaxing week with my friend John Paul– a chef, with a beautiful house and resort-like back patio.

Finally, after nearly two weeks on the road, we pried ourselves away from John Paul’s little Oasis and hit the highway again for the final leg of the trip–Del Ray to Key West.

We found our apartment on the first day we were here. I’m sitting on the porch as I write this, watching people in various states of intoxication ride by on mopeds, scooters and bicycles. Ivy, for some reason, barks and growls at every homeless or handicapped person that walks by, which isn’t funny but is funny since we noticed that pattern (usually she only barks at other dogs and occasionally people on bicycles).

ANYWAY, after a winter of stress and anxiety and seemingly insurmountable obstacles last year, I decided when I embarked upon this adventure to make a list of goals–achievable, painless goals–that I’d like to achieve this, my first free winter since starting school and losing Dad. I have big, serious goals, for sure. Money-related stuff, like paying off my credit cards and whatnot, but that’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about things I want to do, but haven’t had time for until now.

Also, I’ll be 31 in just over two weeks. And so, my LIST:

    31 Things To Do When I’m 31To Do Key West 2010/2011

1. Make art.
2. Take pictures.
3. Find a darkroom that someone will let me use.
4. Rekindle my relationship with the United States Postal Service.
5. Find the important people I’ve lost along the years, and let them know they’re important.
6. Read books for no reason other than pure enjoyment.
7. Write.
8. Learn to sew.
9. Enter a costume contest.
10. Make new things out of old things.
11. Learn about Key West.
12. Renew my passport.
13. Go out of the country for a weekend (it’s possible, with the islands so close).
14. Make gifts and give them for no reason.
15. Write a comic strip based on my life and my friends.
16. Discover new music.
17. Pull pranks.
18. Keep a plant alive for more than a month.
19. Go to a drag show.
20. Catch fish and eat them.
21. Find my favorite place in Key West.
22. Steal flowers, and give them away.
23. Eat lots of fruit.
24. Daydream.
25. Return library books.
26. Pay attention to the moon.
27. Laugh my ass off.
28. Follow the guy with the “God Hates Fags” sign around, carrying my own sign that says “God doesn’t hate anyone,” or “God hates that guy.—>”. Or maybe get a few people to carry signs saying “God hates fans” (with a picture of a fan with a circle and a line through it); “God hates fads” (with a few examples of past and present fads, with lines through them); “God hates fax” (fax machine with a line through it)…. He probably wouldn’t even get it.
29. Eat alligator (and shark, and grouper, .
30. Jump out of a perfectly good airplane (again).
31. Be happy.

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~ by saltgirlspeaks on 9 October, 2010.

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