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Sarasota: nearly seventh heaven

Who knows, really, what that phrase means anyway? But whatever it is, I think I’m entering it.

Yup. Today is the first day of my seventh year back here in Sarasota — and also the beginning of my seventh year of being in business for myself.

When I left Boston six years ago, I really didn’t have any idea what was ahead for me. I just knew that the city I’d loved — and the man I’d loved in it — had kind of beat the stuffing out of my heart. It was time to leave. With no expectations beyond surviving and carving out a little life for me and my cats, I arrived in Sarasota at the height of humidity and with the skies fraught with the maelstrom that would be Charley.

I slept on the floor that night; furniture not yet arrived from Boston (and wouldn’t show up for another two weeks). Einstein and Coco weary from their 30-something hour sojourn.

I bitch a lot about Sarasota — my hometown, really, and that of my family — but I’ve grown to love it, warts and winds and wackadoodles, all.

I still haven’t reconciled myself to the superficiality of what passes for relationships in this town, though; — god how I’d love to have a real conversation with someone that didn’t become something regretted or ignored or discounted later. Every now and then someone speaks something really real — but then they quickly withdraw and it — whatever that real thing was — is never mentioned again. And that continues to trouble me. Everyone in this town keeps everyone else at a considerable arm’s length. People dance around their emotions here. In my experience, nobody really says what they really think. It’s hard to get to the real person. If I ever leave it will be for this reason. Oh, and rising sea levels.

But, there are some genuinely lovely, nice people in this town, too. Men and women with whom I’ve shared drinks and walks and kisses — I just wish I could say I knew any of them better. What makes their hearts beat. What makes their hearts skip a beat. What their fears are; what made them fall in love and what makes them think they’re falling out of love. What makes them feel as if they’re breaking into a million little pieces and how they somehow pick all those pieces up again and get back in the game. I know they do it. They just don’t talk about it.

Want to know what makes my million little pieces stick together? I went on a drive over the weekend and captured just a few of the parts of Sarasota that have become my heart’s glue. I think this is going to be my best year yet.

Circle Books -- one of the first places to sell my book!

Circle Books -- one of the first places to sell my book!

The view from the pier under the Ringling Bridge.

The view from the pier under the Ringling Bridge.

The fairy at the intersection near Florida Studio Theatre.

The fairy at the intersection near Florida Studio Theatre.

The catcus garden in my yard.  I planted one tiny cactus that first August and now there are probably ten or more offspring.  I actually love these plants.

The catcus garden in my yard. I planted one tiny cactus that first August and now there are probably ten or more offspring. I actually love these plants.

The quiet place in my yard where lizards lounge on the Buddha and the jade plant seems to know all.

The quiet place in my yard where lizards lounge on the Buddha and the jade plant seems to know all.

The view from my yard, late in the evening; not yet night.

The view from my yard, late in the evening; not yet night.

Posted on August 16th, 2010Comments RSS Feed
16 Responses to Sarasota: nearly seventh heaven
  1. Good thoughts.. Good feelings.. Have a very good year..

  2. MC, I’ve tried for years to describe the sense of the superficial relationships. Following more than 15 years of vacationing there and 4 years of owning there, I was never able to hit on an answer. Can any of the “natives” offer up an explanation??

  3. Karen, thanks for visiting my blog and for commenting. I’m actually a “native” though for many years I lived up east. I don’t know how to explain this “phenomenon.” And yes, maybe someone can add something to the discussion.

    I’d say this: I’m not a person who easily feels lonely. I love being alone. But I find that I am sometimes lonely in Sarasota for a real “intimacy” — a real, relaxed, true friendship or relationship — with all the warts and whatevahs that go along with that kind of thing.

    Thanks for writing and letting me know that I’m not the only one who feels this “something missing.”

  4. Karen, the “lure” to Sarasota and the “magnetism” which keeps you here, you just can’t explain it. I remember when I worked at the Main Street Bistro, some years ago, I was sitting at the bar after closing, having a drink, this girl moved next to me and asked me what my story was. You know Karen, everyone has a different reason for moving to Sarasota and every facinating story is so much differnt than the next, it’s as if we are living in a well written novel. I know this may not make much sense, but I can say this, for every person that moves here and leaves, 90% return to Sarasota. Every person has a story…. we live it day by day, page by page, in the end, I hope it’s a truly wonderful novel… Yes, Karen, Sarasota and some relationships may be superficial, but it’s “ours” and no one, but no one, can take this feeling and love of Sarasota away from us. Mary will find her intimacy she desires… and if ever she felt the need to move away, her soul and spirit will remain…

  5. The message Karen I guess I’m trying to convey is that no one, but no one, has touched our lives, or has made an inpact on us, the way Mary has…. I don’t know what would happen if Mary ever left…I could never even fathom the thought. Mary is the heart of this city….the pulse, the spirit….

  6. Daniel — disregarding the part about me (as sweet as it was) i really love what you wrote about Sarasota and the “je ne sais quoi” that keeps people enthralled with living and visiting her. i really appreciate YOU.


  7. Daniel – No one’s challenging a love for the city of Sarasota. I agree with you on the magnetism of the place. First, it offers up things the Midwest doesn’t have. The water, the boats, the cranes, the palms, the white sand, rain that starts and stops, wading barefoot from the Crabb & Fin (sp) to the car when it flooded, the circle, the list goes on. And I wanted nothing more than to come back, and back again. But I was never drawn back because of the people. The closest friend I had there was a transplant from the Midwest. The next one was, too. And, the third. Even my closest friend – a guy, a professional, in his ’80s, was only able to befriend transplants from the Midwest. Everyone I ran into there was pleasant, nice, no doubt about it. But they felt transient, sometimes stepfordy (if you know what I mean), for lack of a better description. And just to clarify, “intimacy” doesn’t necessarily imply the guy/gal luv thing. MC, my reference to “native” simply implied someone born and raised there. I’d love to get to the bottom of this, it’s been bugging me for years!

  8. Say Karen…. yes, I certainly understand what you’re feeling hence, the confusion and probably are asking yourself; “why am I not getting it”… Karen, you are “getting it”. Karen, I’m from the Midwest as well. People here are surely different from the Midwest. I feel bonds are stronger within people from the Midwest and more endduring, than when you meet friends down here. I think it’s perhaps, people here are more transient. They don’t stay in one place too often. You either love it, or hate it here. There’s no in-between. I think, people are affraid to get “too close” with someone, because they feel, what the heck, this person is just going to move away, so why bother. In the Midwest, I think bonds are stronger, you hold on to your friends longer. Heck Karen, I’m still talking with friends I’ve had since High School… I can’t count on one hand, how many “true” friends I have here and I’ve been in Sarasota, going on 9 years. I do understand though what you are feeling. What keeps me here probably, is when I get up in the morning to go to work, I see the sun coming up behind the palms, mockingbirds greet me as I wait for the bus. When I get off work, I take a walk over the Ringling Bridge and see a dolphin or true. So, it’s probably the “natural” beauty that keeps me here. Regarding the people here Karen, ..there’s one thing I know, people here are more dependent on others to do something for them, whereas, Midwesterners, are more self reliant. Karen, and man…I can see the comments flying, but you take a native Floridean and put them in Chicago or Detroit for one day, they’ll never make it…..

  9. Daniel, now THIS is the kind of response I was looking for! I appreciate your taking the time to write this thoughtful reply. Great explanation!

  10. Karen, say… I truly belive that becoming self reliant and being more independant should start from better parenting.

    Perhaps this is why, so many adults in Sarasota need shoes that tighten by velcro rather that shoe-laces. I’m not talking of the elderly that may have health issues, or where shoes with velcro may be easier to slip on, I’m talking about the elderly that never learned to tie shoe laces…and Karen, there are several in Sarasota that simply do not know how to tie a shoe lace.

    Karen, where I’m employed, we’ll have parents call for their college-bound sons and daughters, asking for bus routes… I’m serious! Every day, we’ll have a parent call and their 18-19 year-old will be standing right next to the parent and the parent is asking for the route.

    I’ll have adults, asking for a number and when I ask if they have a pen and paper to write the number down, they go: “excuse me…but you want me to do what?!”..

    Karen, this is no joke..I’ve never, ever seen so many adults that were never taught the basic necessities to get them to be less reliant on others. They want everything done for them.

    This is why I stated in my previous post, that you take any Sarasota native, transplant them to either Chicago, Detroit, and they will not last a single day. Heck Karen, they’d wind up in the nearest psychriatic wing of the nearest hospital. I’m serious…

    Karen, when I was growing up an dstill in grade-school, I learend on my own, how to catch the school-bus, where to stand and at what time. I learned, the first thing you did when you began taking phone-calls, was to have a pad of paper and a pen at hand, to take the person’s name and number.

    Karen, you truly need to come back here and perhaps some Midwestern mentality would rub off on some of these people here. Then, perhaps, there may be the chance of some of the normalcy wish is certainly missing in Sarasota.

    Please Karen, come back……

    Daniel :)

  11. Daniel, haha! I’m back there in my mind! I owned a condo there, and all the unexpected assessments gave me the willies. I could budget for normal expenses and r.e. taxes, but a notice that I would owe, say, $22700 in 3-6 months made me nervous. I started looking at single family houses… then the market tanked. It was back to the Midwest!

  12. Karen, a way, don’t blame ya one bit. Hey, any chance on you’re returning to the craziness of Sarasota. I can referr some good local authors to help you get adjusted. Karen, may I ask, as to what part of the Midwest you’re from…Going to be fall, then winter soon…

  13. Daniel – I’m now in Minneapolis. I managed a vacation on Siesta in Nov., but returned to take care of property here, and several important people in my life went to heaven. I hope to get down there next year.

  14. Karen, truly sorry to hear about your loss…Say, hope you mend, get back on your feet and think about coming back. We really need some Midwestern mentality down here….
    Warmest regards, Dan

  15. Daniel, thanks!

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