Don’t blink or you might miss it. The days of vacation seem to fly so fast. Why is it normal life goes so slow sometimes, but when times are good it’s all just sand slipping through an hour glass? Oh what will be will be I guess. I just want to have enough time to write a little bit so I can remember all of it in days and weeks and years to come.
The first few days of this trip were action packed for sure with lots of scheduled activities. The last couple have been a little more chill and impromptu. I’ve said before that Key West has a lot of history to offer, one of those things involved one of the most decorated US writers of all time, Ernest Hemminway. I didn’t have to say a thing about this to JS, he knew I would want to visit the house that he lived in which is now a national treasure.
I’ll admit going in all I really knew was that he was a celebrated writer, and not a whole lot more about his life. Now I do. We took the tour and thus got the full story from our tour guide. His life was fascinating and also tragic. Most of his prize wining novels were loosely based on people, places, and events of his own life.
He was a romantic, married 4 times, lived mostly in Florida (the Key West house) and Paris, and suffered as individual with bi-polar and several other physical ailments that he had his whole adult life. One of those injuries kept him from being drafted during the First World War yet he still volunteered and ended up getting wounded from shrapnel in his legs.
The end of his marriages and beginning of the next was a pattern of having affairs and being caught. His wife would ask for a divorce and within a few weeks he would be married again. In touring his house it was clear that he loved boats and being in the water. One typed note I read was a letter to a friend confessing he was broke and needed to make a certain amount from his current writing endeavor to cover the cost of the boat he had his eye on.
Another pattern of behavior with the wives was that each was richer than the last. He married into money and most of what we were touring was bought and paid for by the families of his wife. Besides his legacy of writing, he had 3 children (all boys) who have had a number of children of their own.
When the Hemingways sold the house it was bought by a woman who had the mind to keep everything “as-is” and that’s how we are still today able to see what his writing studio looked like including original furniature and typewriters. I got emotional seeing that. It was like an amazing pilgrimage for an aspiring writer to experience. Among the treasures preserved for future generations is something else he had an affinity for.. his six-toed cats.
He had a fascination with the six toed cat and had been given one at some point. He had other cats and they had litters and to this day the same line is being kept in the house. At present, there are 56 cats on the premises and each female is permitted to have one litter of kittens before being fixed. All are given famous peoples names in keeping with the tradition he started, naming them after some his favorite people, who were actors and actresses. Most of them have the six-toe trait. On the tour they were in almost every room of the house. Just laying around on the tables and chairs living a life of luxury.
The tour guide explained how they were cared for and how every night part of her job is helping to round them all up and get them to the kitty-cat condos which are in the back yard. People asked if they ever wandered off to which she replied, “no, they have it so good they never go missing”. If they wander off property, they always come back. That’s a lesson People, recognize when you have a good thing and don’t mess with it.
Hemingway lived a full life, and I can see how all the drama could lend itself to inspiration. At what cost though? What I did not know before the tour was that his mental suffering eventually led to depression and subsequently shock therapy treatment. He was only in his sixties when he ended his own life with a gunshot to the head. There’s another lesson there which I just don’t have the words for right now…
After that tour we did the lighthouse tour across the street and I was somewhat brought back to the reality of the day. Hey, did I mention it’s effing hot in Florida? Just walking around in that heat for an hour wears a person out and neither of us felt like more sight-seeing after that.
That afternoon we cooled off in the comfort of our AC before venturing out again to get my other vacation destination “must”.. a Key West Cheeseburger. Of course the area is teeming with fresh seafood and I’d already had several crab cakes, but my time on the island would not be complete without some cheeseburger experience. That deserves a post all its own so I’m going to save that one for later, but trust me when I say it was good.
So good in fact that I ate every last bit and ended up not being so hungry for dinner at the fancy place we had reservations for. Among all the days touring and eating was a fair bit of day drinking. By the time dinner was over, I was exhausted and ready to finish the night off with one last cold one back at the condo. We sat on our patio watching a storm roll by in the distance. It was a nice ending to an incredible and satisfying day.
At every turn Jim has been making sure my every need has been met. I mean, all I had to do was say I wanted to find the best Cheeseburger on the island and he was immediately researching how to make that a reality. I feel a bit like those spoiled Hemminway cats. I know a good thing and intend to stick around… for as long as life will allow.
Feeling is Believing,