dateline: november

Caught behind enemy lines. Old men in pale thigh-length shorts and hideously striped t-shirts hit tiny white balls the length of the seventh hole. Each group advances to the green in turn — an endless repetition. Some lady is shaking a Turkish rug in front of her porch across the lawn.

I’ve been here a year now, and once again I witness the arrival of the tourist hoards. They’ve invaded my empty parking lot; I’m no longer alone in this building.

This morning I awoke with water sounds through the wall. People have moved into Apartment #1006. Through the window, after breakfast, they were washing their rent-a-car next to my battle-weary Eldorado, eyeing its worn & ripped canvas top and cracked windshield. No doubt thinking, “What sort of person are we living next to? He must be … (terror takes hold of their heart as the thought occurs) … a local resident!”

Little do they know. I’m an expatriate from the world of culture, a refugee washed up on the shores of the barren Bonita Coast. I’m an exile from my native land where people talk of things other than catching snook, making par, and saving manatees. I once lived in a land of jazz bars, three-story bookstores, and record shops that have everything. A place where you can see foreign films (with sub-titles) and hear first-rate musicians practicing on the street for free.

Now my home is Florida. It does have its advantages. The view of the golf course from my bedroom balcony is strikingly beautiful. In the morning a hazy mist hangs in the air as the sun ascends. I can see glistening tire tracks of dew on the fairway. Towards mid-morning, the mist disappears and the trees turn vivid green beneath billowing white clouds that are as tall as buildings.

Yesterday I watched two little girls, a young boy, and their father play touch football behind the pool. The older girl (she must have been around nine) dove for a long arcing pass from her father, landed quite heavily, and came up intact, arms in the air, grinning brightly. “We win, we win,” she yelled.

Two days ago I was sitting on the sand with friends, waiting for the sun to set. Two of us had brought guitars, the rest were trying to sing. The surface of the Gulf was still. Seagulls glided within a wingspan of the water, looking for fish. There was a steady, cool, November breeze at our backs. As the sun touched the horizon, the sky was filled with fierce red-orange strips of cloud.

Yeah, yeah, yeah. Anyway, hello from down under.

(November 1992)