I have this absurd fantasy that sneaks up on me sometimes in my mellower moments (so, rarely). It is the thought of moving to some place like Key West, or one of the smaller Hawaiian islands. I’d spend my days hanging out at beachfront cabanas sipping rum drinks, noodling away at whatever writing project engaged me at the time. I’d be so familiar to staff that they wouldn’t even trouble to ask me what I was having before bringing my first drink over. I’d never wear socks, or underwear, or shirts with collars ever again. (Actually, I’m already basically there with that latter.) My head will be filled with creative imaginings and ear-worms of Beach Boys songs.
Now, as I’ve already noted, this is an absurd fantasy. Quite aside from the fact that, short of winning one of the larger lottery prizes I’d never be able to afford such locales, there are the facts that I can barely suffer the heat and humidity of Midwest summers, and AGWi driven sea rise means the storm surge from the next big blow to hit these places will sweep away every last trace of human habitation. But fantasies seldom allow logic or facts to interfere with them; just consider those pitiful rubes who voted for Trump (twice!) and even imagine he won the 2020 election. Yet I still buy a lottery ticket every now and then, even though I understand I’ve a better chance of being struck by lightning in any given year. (About 1 chance in 1,220,000.)
But there is something about those places, something that really catches and hold your imagination. For the record, I’ve been to Key Largo and Key West. And while I’ve never been to Hawaii, I have been to Tahiti, which has a very similar climate. There’s just something in the air and the light that is not like other places; something romantic even in the loneliness. And that’s what I want to talk about here, the sense of place.