It’s twelve feet above sea level in Key West at its highest point, the cemetery.
One day, and it was one among ten, the Simonton Street bank LED showed 87F, and I was running then in the midafternoon when the sun is hottest, not much better than a 9 minute-mile pace but it’s flat, gloriously so, the only hill-like climb the rise of the bridge along Palm Avenue over the Garrison Bight, near the floating Thai restaurant with, believe it or not, real, honest to God Thai food – and Thai servers.
Key Westers will tell you that life has changed down here. But if your accommodation is taken care of – courtesy of friends or family, a conference, in my case – then I’d daresay less than other places you care to name. Chickens walk every whichway, roosters rule the roost, a sixty-something black man tells stories of how special a certain white man was to his reckoning back in the middle ’50s. (Ernest Hemingway, if you have to ask.) Which is not to say that Key West is diverse. Far from it. But it has not been destroyed by the grotesque money of the .001 percenters. Homeless live here. Showing more fear than the fowl, serving as a morning weather forecaster on one occasion, straight-talking picnic-table sitters in a second.
Run here and – because of its flatness – spring along. Next to the fat-tired bikes rented by gray hairs, and the seemingly endless supply, if not variety, of conch trains trailing as many as a hundred tourists, sitting down for the low-rise tour of the houses, the tallest freestanding structure being the near-buried in sand and dune plants, Fort Zachary, or maybe some port-area government buildings, but most everything veers to the small side, with cottages bearing the less-than-quaint name: shotgun.
It would be fun to return to Key West one day. Maybe taste a few more 80F-plus days. Now, though, am happy to be back home. In the midst of a New York winter.
Next: Running for Your Life: Knausgaard Vol. II