unchecked lists

I wrote a list when I got here, of all the things I wanted to do, and some of the things I had to do. I think I managed about half of them. Maybe two-thirds. Most of them were places I wanted to eat. It’s pretty dumb of me, really. Key West is an island most people go with the express purpose of not really doing anything. It’s designed to undermine the most active of intensions, unless those intensions are to drink margaritas and eat seafood.

I’ve no idea how Hemingway managed to write here. I stare at a page as the morning gets hotter and my eyes get grabbed by a lizard flitting along the deck or a hummingbird whizzing about and then it’s too hot and a tree frog croaks or the pool looks too good or there’s a beer that’s been in the fridge too long and I should probably get that out and sip it while trying to get a word or two down. That’s why I get up early to go for a run before the sun rises. At least if I’ve done that, I’ve done something. I can nap, drink beer, eat ice cream, munch fish tacos on the beach; whatever I want, because I went for a run and did something. Doing something is one of the best excuses for doing nothing out there.

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lost luggage

There weren’t too many people waiting for their luggage. I guess a bunch of folks found their way through passport control before I did. Everyone’s bag looked the same. My clothes clung to me as clothes do when you’ve been wearing them for too long and flown across an ocean and haven’t showered.

I’m very self-aware in baggage halls. My body and being feel as though they are imposters, abandoned far from comfort and safety; displaced. I sense how once comfortable and loose clothing sticks to me, clinging to my skin in an embrace forced by long hours on the stiff seat of a 747. My eyes are dry, and I want to bury my fists in them, to rub out a day or two’s worth of sleeplessness. I will my bag to appear to no avail. Parents herd their children, dragging them away when they get too close to the conveyer belt. A man in a suit wearing a rucksack looks even stranger than I feel. Who wears a suit on a flight from Miami? Who wears a suit with a satchel-like rucksack? I thought the dude in the cravat was bad. Yeah, there was a guy in a cravat and seersucker, and he looked pretty ridiculous. Do I look normal? Shirt and jeans? I have no idea. I don't feel normal. There is a garbled announcement, something about our flight and our luggage. There is almost no one left now. My heart sinks a bit, and I watch as one of the families makes their way towards the help desk, and then another. There’s a couple there too, who look quite stylish and European. Anonymously olive-skinned and in no way like they’ve just been on an airplane for 8 hours. He’s in a black shirt and black jeans, whilst she could be a stand-in for Isabella Rosallini. They fill in their form and I’m next. I fill it out. I don’t bother asking what happened or where they think the bag might be. I’m tired and resigned to treating myself to a cab home. The guy assures me it’s usually never more than 24 hours. I thank him and head out through the “Nothing to Declare” queue. They’re searching someone. I’ve just got my carry on and wander out.

The cash machine offered the following: £300, £400, £500, £800, or £1000. I laughed and keyed in £40 and walked out into the cold and the wind. I fumbled to get my jacket on and when it was I was not much warmer. The taxis were close, though. My driver was nice. He asked me whether he should go out for dinner with his family for New Year’s Eve, or to his mate’s birthday party. I told him I was a bad person to ask, because I’d just had a week with my family, and had had my fill. He should go to his mate’s birthday party. He laughed at that and then we were quiet for the rest of the drive. There was no traffic, and in short order I was home. With no unpacking to do, I ordered some lunch to be delivered, took my meds, and cuddled the cat, who was very happy to see me. After lunch I searched for a toothbrush and toothpaste, mine being in the lost luggage, brushed my teeth, and went upstairs for a nap. A quick replay of the morning played out before I fell asleep, ending with the cab ride home. I thought again about the driver’s dilemma. I hope he went to dinner with his family anyway.


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looking for crumbs

The one-eyed tern popped about the sand next to the table on the beach. He didn't venture too far into the shade under the umbrella. He kept his good eye flicking between me and the fallen potato chip near my foot. Soon a swatch of twig-like footprints covered that little plot of the beach, ending about 10 inches from the chip. He'd get close and then leap back, cocking his eye up at me, trying to determine if I was trying to trap him. I didn't know the universal sign for 'its your chip now, have at it' and tried to convey my lack of interest in the chip, but he wasn't having any of it. I figured losing an eye made him somewhat untrusting. We sat in stalemate until a little girl wearing water wings ran by, flapping, sending the one-eyed tern elsewhere. I saw him land near where the small waves lapped the sand. I reached down and picked up the fallen potato chip and lightly tossed it over to one of the twig-like footprints and then sipped my beer. A few moments later my cycloptic friend returned, tracing the umbrella's shadow before noticing the closer proximity of the fallen chip. Two short hops and he devoured it, then tilted his good eye up towards me with a look that seemed to say 'is that it?'.


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I need one of those travel tubes for my toothbrush. You know, so you don't get any detritus from the inside of your shaving kit on the bristles because, let's face it, that's kind of gross. I don't know where I lost the last one, but it's gone and my flight leaves Sunday. I don't even know where I got the last one. Probably Boots. But fuck those guys, they don't pay their taxes.

My flight leaves Sunday and I also need contact lenses and there is absolutely no guarantee that they're going to get here on time. One place said they'd get here, but then emailed to say the astigmatism lenses were out of stock and so I ordered some that don't have that correction and they say they'll be here but I'm not betting on it. 

I think I know where my passports are. I haven't double checked. 

There was a fat wad of dollars in the drawer to the right of my desk. I took them out and counted them and there more singles than I remembered. A massive $16. That might cover a beer during my layover in Atlanta. 

My layover is in Atlanta. 

My email dinged and my contacts are arriving before I leave. All of them. The ones I ordered and the ones I ordered because I didn't think the ones I ordered were going to be here in time. 

Passports, toothbrush thingy, contact lenses, currency, plug adaptors, etc and my mother sends an email asking for Cornish sea salt and so I add Cornish sea salt to the list wondering what the fuck is wrong with the Maldon that she has kilos of. 

Dad prefers the Cornish stuff.

If I stop and think about that too hard I'll get lost and never found so I just shrug and add it to the list along with some stuff for the house and shit I better change the cat's box before I leave. 

I keep thinking I'm leaving tomorrow but it's Sunday.


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