Key West, Florida - Real or Plastic?

Discombobulated in Key West

There are things I love about Key West. The weather is awesome – my skin absolutely glows in the tropics. It is a small, eminently walkable island (only seven miles around). Key West is one of the safest places I have ever visited; I can walk home alone at any hour of the night without worry. Vegetarian food is abundant; in fact one of the best vegetarian restaurants I have ever been to – The Cafe – is located in Key West. The beaches are lovely and within walking distance. A strong arts culture ensures there is always some event going on, whether it be a gallery showing, an arts film, or a display of sculpture in the public parks.

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The beach at Fort Zachary Taylor is my favorite – a lovely sheltered cove, pure white sand, and no tourists

But for all this, Key West unsettles me. After being here a few days I start to feel uncomfortable in my skin. I know that it is a real place with real people who live here year round; the problem is that the real people are overshadowed by the drunken tourists, smelly garbage, ubiquitous homeless, constant noise, and shops full of junk merchandise. It seems a plastic environment.

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This little red trailer was part of “Sculpture Key West,” an outdoor arts display in Fort Taylor. The tiny side on the door read: “Peek inside – do not step inside”

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Pulling aside the curtain, I found a startling display of rabid dogs, constructed of paper, yarn, foam, zippers, and taxidermy teeth. The title of this provocaive piece? “False Security.”

When I ended my real estate career on the Outer Banks of North Carolina, I searched all over the east coast, looking for a  place to live. I settled on Key West and even bought an old multi-family home here, which I then proceeded to remodel. By the time I had finished remodeling the first of its three apartments, I realized I simply could not live here. Too crazy. Too noisy. I still have the property, which is rented out to year-round tenants. But occasionally, someone moves and I must clean and ready the apartment for a new tenant – which is why I am here now. Each time I come, I reconsider moving into my place – the tropics hold a strong allure for me. But I always come to the same conclusion – I simply cannot live here.

I will admit one thing. Key West may be discombobulating, but it is definitely never boring. Perhaps I have the best of both worlds. I get to visit Key West a couple of times a year, but I also get to leave.

2 Comments on “Discombobulated in Key West

  1. wow, those dogs are sweet, i think that is a great photo. good post, i agree that key west is a great place, if it wasn’t for the limited space and high cost of living, it would be a paradise. a nice place to visit anyhow.

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