Some Good Florida Stuff

Ok, I know I always write about the bad things in Florida, let me write about some of the good. . . . . hold on, I know there must be something. Actually Florida isnít that bad, it just isnít where I want to be. The problem is I donít know exactly where I want to be and even if I was there I would probably want to be somewhere else. Hmmm.

Anyhow, Florida. I moved here in 2002 from Kansas City, Missouri. I chose Florida during an ice storm when it occurred to me that I didnít have to live like that Ė alone in the dark, freezing and eating crackers dipped in frozen mustard. Several months later I packed up my Neon with two cats and all my earthly possessions. My first apartment was in Lutz (pronounce Looooots), suburb of Tampa, picked out based on pictures I viewed on the internet as I had never been to Tampa. The site said ďminutes from the beachĒ and if by minutes you mean 87 minutes, then I guess itís true. This first apartment was very spacious due to the lack of furniture. It also flooded, had bugs, and most importantly had insane neighbors. I think 37 people lived in the one bedroom apartment above me. The bedroom was the worst part, they had this old bed that squeaked loudly. I could never figure out what the situation with that bed was though Ė I could hear people walking across the floor to the bedroom, squeaking bed, then more walking. Was the bed placed in front of the doorway so that anytime anyone entered the bedroom they were forced to walk over it? Seriously the furniture arrangement of that apartment occupied my thoughts for months. It also sounded like they were diving off of the furniture onto the floor (my ceiling) at regular 13 minute intervals. Donít get me started on the stereo bass that vibrated my walls at all hours. After a miserable six months in hell, I packed my stuff once again.

My destination this time was Davis Islands, also a suburb of Tampa, but actually right in downtown Tampa. Hereís a link with a few pictures Ė I donít really think this website does justice to the place, but itís the best I could find. If youíre really bored, hereís another link - Iíve always liked this building, but no, I donít live here. I donít have $799 a month to spend on a small one bedroom apartment.

Anyhow again, Davis Island is my favorite place in Tampa. Even though itís right downtown, it feels like a neighborhood. I live on the east side of the island Ė where all of the apartments are at, the ghetto side. The west side of the island is full of million dollar homes Ė itís an interesting mix of people Ė doctors, college students, etc. About two blocks from my apartment is the downtown island district, made up of several locally owned restaurants like Estelaís where you can sit outside and eat chips and salsa and drink cheap margaritas or the Flamingowhich has the best flapjacks on the planet. Seriously. On the weekends, you can go to Yeomanís pub for live music and cheap beer. A few shops too. The best part? All of this is within walking distance.

The other thing I love about living here is being able to walk everywhere. Sunday mornings I walk with my dog to the convenience store for a newspaper, then we go to the Flamingo for breakfast (dogs are allowed outside!) where I can sit and read and drink coffee and eat flapjacks. Itís the best thing ever. For serious. After breakfast, thereís also a dog park at the south end of the island, right next to dog beach. Yes, that would be a beach for dogs.

Other stuff? I love the buildings on the island Ė most of them are original from the 1920ís. Some of the newer houses on the west side of the island are kind of depressing in their uniformity, but stay to the east and be impressed. My building hasnít had much in the way of improvements in oh, about 80 years. My floors, sinks, cabinets and bathtub are all original. I think at one time there was crown molding but so many layers of paint have been put on the walls that you canít tell where the wall ends and the molding begins. The door has a transom over the top of it that has long ago been painted shut. The only new things in the apartment are a window a/c unit and a heater that operates on the same concept as a Bunsen burner Ė turn on gas, wait, press button to make spark, bam, heat! I have one little bitty closet to hold all my clothes. My bedroom is actually a half bedroom but has four windows. There are windows in every room of the apartment, including one right over the bathtub. If I stand on my kitchen counter to clean the top of my cabinets, thru the crack I can see into my neighborís apartment. The kitchen has a fold out table and bench Ė my Siamese Cat climbed in behind the bench and wound up downstairs at another neighborís apartment. I have hand crank windows and sometimes (often) the handle falls off. In spite of all these things and more, I love where I live. I love that my building is 80 years old and I wonder about all the people that lived here before me Ė what they are doing now and what they dreamed when they lived here. And I wonder if someone else will live here one day and wonder about me.

Let's end with pictures:

View from my bedroom - see the water? And the big boat? Sometimes I can see cruise ships go by up close on the weekends.

View of the pirate (gasparilla) boat parade from Davis Island in February - one block from my apartment.

2005-06-14 at 10:02 a.m.