by Lauren Wilson (Boulder, Colorado)
I have always been a fan of bubble lands. I am coming from a bubble land of the mountain sort called Boulder, CO., people actually refer to it as the Boulder Bubble, a land full of paradoxes and peculiarities, not unlike, in many ways, this little island … bubble lands are good places to live and visit in my humble or not so humble opinion.
Though one is dry mountainous and the other is flat wetinous they both share a sense of a found haven; a place where people flock to for a visit or to roost because there is something magical in the air. There is a certain sense that “I could find my people here” and the boxes are not the four-corner sort. We both have our buskers and yodelers and escapers of what the rest of the country might pass for normal.
My sister, Beth Eliot the usual penner of this article, lives here in Key Haven, which is where I usually lay my head when in town. In a fit of honesty and exhaustion at the admission that we were to be guest number 12 or was it 13 this year, family or not, guests do indeed become a bit smelly after 3 days, especially when you are number 13 and the year is not even half over. So we decided to keep the smell factor down to a dull whiff and had the opportunity to stay for half of the trip in a wonderful classic shot-gun cottage in old town.
And hallelujah, (for all of us) because the bubble of Key West has truly emerged in all of its glory. And yes, some of that glory does include roosters, which I would frankly not really call glory, but at least these don’t seem to think sunrise is at 3:00 am like the Thai roosters … but that is another story entirely. And I might be wrong, I certainly can’t assume that all the local roosters are gentlemanly in their cawing hours. Though there does happen to be a mysterious green eyed-black cat that shimmies by around happy hour on the porch who has a certain glimmer of knowing in his eye; he may very well be keeping the local rooster mafioso’s in check, it is that kind of a place.
And as I write that sentence the palms all started to dance in unison in a cacophony of knowing and agreement. There is magic here, and there is no doubt about it.
Like all good bubbles, there is something different here. And again, typing that sentence a flower falls off the tree onto the keyboard, it is currently covering “P”, sorry flower, I had to type it (it flew away uninjured). There is a sense here that the unexpected is the backdrop and that a sense of freedom is the norm. And our daily lives (when our lives are not in a bubble) don’t often reflect that. So people want to come for a taste, or stay for a life, who can blame them.
It is a joyous thing, as I stay in old town, feeling like a halfy between a tourist and pseudo local with my family badge of Key West and many visits under my belt. And being that, I get to look with eyes wide open and heart akin, thinking perhaps I too could have a little place here, participate in this bubble a little more frequently. Because many of the people here have a sparkle in their eye and a skip to their step that without words does indeed declare “I have found the key to the secret garden”. And you simply never know next to whom you are sitting in the mandatory Key West uniform of causal attire and flip-flops. It could be a mystic, a hobo, a poet or a millionaire, but if they have the sparkle, then they know, and that knowing could be for a moment, an hour, a lifetime or the timeless knowing that never comes and goes … but this is indeed a special place beyond the land where they say magic is just for children. And here, if you just stay quiet for a moment, the palms will sing to you and they will whisper or they will scream, just listen child this is where you belong and there is no need to leave. And the funny thing is, the magic of Key West never really truly leaves you …