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Thursday, September 9, 2010

Just Living the Good Life!, or Wherever You Go, There You Are

I spent the last several days in Florida visiting my friend T.

You remember T, don’t you? Smiter of Squirrels, One-Liner Aficionado, T moved from Minnesota to Florida in March of last year. Having lived through the bone-biting cold of winter, as all right-thinking Minnesotans do, he inexplicably threw his mittened hands into the air one day, cried “I give up!”, and moved to an island.

And while I have gone on record a number of times as being four-square against my friends moving to places that I cannot reach easily, I would also like to go on record as approving of those that, feeling they must move, do so to a place perfect for vacationing.

Well done, T.

Have you been to Florida? The sky is bright blue; the people, dark brown. The sun is insistent, the humidity oppressive, and large, talkative birds sit on telephone wires holding their wings out to the wind, airing their feathery underarms.

T picked me up at the airport. We hugged.

“How are you? How have you been?”

“Oh, you know,” he says, grinning. “Celebrating life.”

Celebrating life, huh? Celebrating life. The cynical Midwesterner in me seizes upon this phrase.

“The pamphlet distributed on the airplane suggested that there might be some of that,” I said.

“Relax,” T said, laughing. “You’re on island time.”

Everywhere we went, we heard variations of this phrase.

“How’s it going?” “Celebrating life.”


“What you been up to?” “Just livin’ the good life!”


I am wary of expressions like this. Pat answers make me narrow my eyes in concentration. Embedded in me at an early age by a father who insisted that I be a lert (“Be alert, Pearl - the world needs more lerts”), by the time the woozy-looking man at the bus stop hollered “Livin’ the good life!” as we walked past him on the way to the beach, I’d already written this phrase in my notebook.

There was a party that first night at Elliot’s house. Elliot, a man from New York, and perhaps the hub of neighborhood life, held court on the large, tented patio; and people came from all sides bearing large platters of food. Almost everyone there was originally from somewhere else: there was Milla the Grilla (Ohio), Dave (Florida), Bob (Tennessee) and Kim (Texas), Rob (Minnesota) and Colleen (Wisconsin), Mike (Massachusetts) and Julia (Florida, Okinawa, Germany).

There was plenty to eat, and plenty to drink.

And there was entertainment.

You know the young and often beautiful people who perform in parks, for “fringe” festivals, often sharing space with drummers, face-painters, and jugglers? The long-haired free spirits dressed in clothes from another generation, bracelets and earrings jangling?

Julia and Colleen, Hula Hoopers of the First Order, took their hoops into the backyard, just beyond the light of the patio, just in front of the docks, and danced in the dark, a background of a million stars running the mirrored length of the ocean, hoops spinning up and down their bodies, around their necks, sliding up one arm and down the other.

And while I won’t be following The Dead in a VW bus any time soon, like karaoke or gluing stuff onto things with a hot glue gun, I can now add “hula hoop” to the list of things I do just a little bit better with a couple beers in me.

It was a long night, a warm night with just the right amount of cool breeze and smart talk, and I couldn’t begin to remember all of it.

But I do remember this: hours later and in my room, my head spinning from drink and hula-hoop muscle-memory, I drunkenly considered the differences between where you’re from, where you are, and what it all means.

I decided that wherever I was, that was the place I should be.

And I believe I fell asleep smiling.





Still have some time to kill? I was published in an online magazine called Praxis. Click here to read "So What Do You Say You and I Get Together After Work?", a lovely piece I would like to take just one more editorial crack at...

29 comments:

Georgina Dollface said...

I've always loved the expression, "Wherever you go, there you are." It really does wonders for quelling my Inner Whiner.who is always trying to get away from herself. Where can you go and not take yourself with you? - G

Symdaddy said...

Even at home I ask myself "Am I there yet?", but the answer is always "No!".

I'm always 'here'.

Damn, Pearl! It looks so nice 'over there' too!

I wish I could fall asleep with a smile on my face.

Bum!

Simply Suthern said...

Sounds like you might being head'in to island time more often.

How am I doing?? I'm do'in ah-ight!!

Pearl said...

Georgina, it's practically my mantra!

Symdaddy, I aspire to bum!

Simply, we do ah-ight up here, too, but seven months out of the year we're just too cold to bother with sayin' it. :-)

Mandy said...

The sun makes people crazy.

Sweet Cheeks said...

I think it's hard NOT to enjoy living in a place with a Disney World, tons of retired folks and all that fresh air.
p.s.
You might want to inform T...when the apocalypse happens, and the world is going to end...the zombies will start with all the happy people first. Just sayin'....
;-)

Symdaddy said...

Ah, my dear, you have much to learn about the workings of an old man's mind.

And your 'aspiration to bum' could be very painful indeed, but I wish you luck with it (just in case it IS a serious aspiration).

Douglas said...

A common question posed when meeting new people in two states (California and Florida) is "Where are you from?" My answer is usually "lots of places..." Never fails to put them off balance.
I live in a place in Florida that is a bump in the road situated between two other bumps in the road... and far enough away from all the places that are famous to make it stay that way.

Stacy Q said...

Loved the article about your van-driving-days. I was cheering for the guys to let go of the van and let it slide into the loud-mouthed BMW driver... Great article!!!

injaynesworld said...

Sounds like a perfectly lovely getaway. Good for you. Now that you're back in Minnesota, I hope you'll explain to me why the state has a wacko like Michelle Bachmann representing them. Now there's someone I'd like to see shipped off to an island.

injaynesworld said...

Congrats on getting published. I can just see you driving that van now. :)

Jude said...

Congratulations on the Praxis piece! (And I'm still getting over Smiter of Squirrels :))

Kavi said...

You've been to Florida and back while i have been away for sometime !

Great to be back and look forward to connecting up more !

GYPSYWOMAN said...

oh, the land of the golden sun and golden boys and girls and beautiful exotic birds! and sounds as if you really were "livin' the good life" while you were there, hulahoop and all! good for you!

Lisa said...

I love the lert joke! My high school boyfriends' mom gave him a pin with that on it and it still cracks me up. She got it because when he was little, he cried when she told him to urinate. He thought she was calling him a mean name.

That vacation sounds so wonderful. Welcome to the Southeast.

Louisiana Belle said...

Congrats on getting published! Well deserved.

Sam Liu said...

I've never been to Florida, though oddly enough, my mother did say to me today, "What do you think about going to Florida in October?". Honestly. Just came right out with it, with no leading or introductory conversation. I'd love to go there, your description of it sounds wonderful, and it sounds as though you had a good and interesting time. So I may be there soon...

And, well done on being published, that's wonderful news!

a Broad said...

"a mobile example of what happens to nice girls who don't go to college."
This is todays All Time Favorite Pearl Quote"
Of course they published you ... It was wonderful !!

I lived in Florida for a year and a half or as we liked to say ... we lived in Florida for 5 hurricanes.
It wasn't even on an island but near Georgia .. omigod.
I never knew if the mosquitoes or the palmetto bugs would kill me first, to hell with the armadillo in the back yard. jeeezus.
Not even the dog looked back as we drove away from that place ..
If you want to visit somewhere that is nice .. vacation wise or other wise, in your Minnesota winter .. come to Buenos Aires.. it will be summer.. the men are beautiful and so is the weather..

a Broad said...

"Smiter of Squirrels" ?? :(

ICKY said...

I very much enjoyed your visit !
Glad you had fun.
Look forward to your next visit.

Pearl said...

Mandy, is it the sun that drives people crazy, or is that we notice the crazy people better in the sunlight? Huh? Huh?! :-)

Sweet Cheeks, amazingly, T’s demeanor has changed dramatically since moving to FL. He is a far happier person now. I will, however, alert him about the zombies!

Symdaddy, I don’t think I have it in me to be a bum. Wait. Am I playing into some joke right now, like the Brits with their laughing any time I write the word “pants”?!

Douglas, I noticed that, absolutely. “Where you from?” Seemed to me that most of the people I met were from the Midwest or from “Out East”.

Stacy, the guy in the Beemer deserved more than he got, I’ll tell you that! Still, I hold the memory of the look on his face dear…

Injaynesworld, I would love to explain that but can’t. All I can say is that I’m Not In Her District!!!! :-) And thank you!

Kavi, yes, I’ve noticed that you took some time off! Now get back to writing so I can see through your eyes again!

Gypsywoman, I actually thought of you that night. Seriously.

Lisa, oh, that’s so cute!! Poor little guy!!

Louisiana Belle, thank you! You know, I’ve seen you around for so time and have even tried to follow you to your site but am always blocked. Thanks for commenting!!

Oh, Sam! Go! Go! There are palm trees and pelicans and alligators! Might I recommend the WEST side of Florida in October (I think the East Coast gets the hurricanes). Mmm. The whole dang state looks like a postcard…

A Broad, I’m glad you enjoyed my Praxis submission! And Buenos Aires! I can’t even imagine being on another continent. :-) If I come down, you and I will have a drink or two and go to your favorite restaurant. I SO want to travel more! Oh, and yes. “Smiter of Squirrels”. :-)

Pearl said...

Icky -- if that is your real name! -- I had a lot of fun as well. You live in a beautiful area and I am no longer angry with you for moving there. :-)

Gigi said...

From the descriptions of your winters way up there in the hinterlands - I would hope that your next trip to Florida will take place during the cold months - when the weather down South would be a *touch* more inviting.

Loved the piece at Praxis!

Pearl said...

Gigi, thanks for checking it out! And yes, there's a regular migration route from Minnesota to Florida opening the day after Christmas. :-)

Tempo said...

A great little story Pearl...lets hope the begining of something much bigger that you deserve...

Vicki said...

Cuppa tea and Pearl every morning gets my day started on the good foot. Congrats on the Praxis piece--send them more.

Anonymous said...

Steamy day today. The sun is most completely shining and skies are clearly blue. White puffs of happy thoughts and distractions are floating past my third floor window at the office. One of the Stray Cats sent me the link to your Blog. I read it and thought, "I liked her anyway. I like her more now." So, Elliot's back from NYC, fantasy football started, Elvis is still in jail for biting Mike, my new toy is a rainbow, tonight we're celebrating Colleen's birthday and since that means we started last night and it won't end till Monday, "yup we're living the good life still." Come on back any time. We have a hula hoop with your name on it. ;-)

Bossy Betty said...

Nice magazine, Pearl! Congrats!

Bossy Betty said...

Oh! I thought it was YOUR magazine!!!! OK, OK, nice article on the magazine, Pearl!!!