On the last night of my three week residency at The Studios of Key West, I reflect back on that first day, when, bone tired from missed connections and a four hour shuttle ride, I arrived to find that almost immediately I was in love. It might have been the smell of flowers in the air, or the ocean breeze, or it could have been the wonderful staff of TSKW waiting to greet me. Or maybe it was the umbrella of the mango tree dripping with fruit, its branches filling the sky above my little house. Or the house itself, with its spiral staircase and deck up in the midst of the mangos. Or the geckos that raced across the sculpture garden outside my door.
My love affair with this magical island started that night. But as love does, the more I got to know Key West, the more my affection grew. Key West, I love you for your Victorian architecture, for your rich history and your diverse culture, for your food, and your sunsets and your beaches. I love that I can get a Cuban coffee, walk next door for a French pastry, then head another block down for conch fritters.
But mostly I love your people, the welcoming, non-judgmental, creative and varied people who call this magical island their home. The people who show up for gallery openings and readings and fundraisers for the arts. The people who work hard all day and still have the energy to go salsa dancing half the night. Who welcomed this traveler and took her in, took her to Louis’ Backyard and to the Green Parrot, took her dancing and gave her space to create.
I’ll miss you, Conch Republic, but I’ll be back, I swear. And we’ll go dancing on the beach at sunset.