I remember an apartment filled with bodies, an apartment loud and raucous with partying college kids, and I sat among them, a thirty-or-something, drunk on the company, but loathing the clean-up. I hated it at times. It was a welcome respite from the days alone in Punta Gorda, a small oasis of talk and drinking games and fire spinning. I loved it even as I hated being the only one who cared enough to contain the mess afterward.
Here it’s quiet. I know people. I could go out. Sure. Maybe. But I could also sit on the floor and stare up at the ceiling, and it would be about the same thing.
They call this place Tallahassee. My spouse sent me the following etymology: “from Muskogee tvlvhasse, name of a tribal town, perhaps from etvlwv ‘tribal town’ + vhasse ‘old, rancid.'” I looked it up after he’d sent it to me. He’d apparently copy pasted it from the Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper. It’s fitting.
I remember these things about Miami: fifteen or sixteen or more bodies pressed into our apartment on a weeknight. Someone pouring the rum right-handed across his body, leaning to the left into his phone, against the counter, away from talk in order to better hear the tiny receiver. I remember our philosopher and our resident kandi kid sitting cross-legged on the unmopped floor, hunching over the shesh besh board, dice rolls exploding from hands which drunkenly fumbled the chips in interlocked U’s. I remember the cups of the tea set all holding rum, all glued to careless fingers, and dishwashers stuffed full of things that were supposed to have been hand washed.
It’s a folly to prefer that to this. It’s a folly to think “I should have.” I hated those nights when I could get no break from the noise. But I’d trade everything in this town for one more night in a cramped apartment with friends.
I wonder if it’s wisdom to listen to our philosopher: you can be happy anywhere. I don’t know. I can try. I found woods filled with paths bursting with chanterelles and wild onions. I found pools seeping out of sinkholes smelling of earth and cool water. I found isolation and strange hills, businesses that close early, park hours enforced, and no beach to wander at night. Nowhere to sit until 2 a.m. with pen in hand around people, unless I want to drink coffee bad enough to hurt my stomach.
This is the choice I made. I came here to cold winter nights and college girls stage-whispering to each other about my clothes. I love my spouse, but my pentacle draws stares. What do you do with that?