The Island of Misfit Toys

The Island of Misfit Toys


Our new friend, Terry, used this phrase the other night when we were talking about places in time and life. That we find ourselves spending the XMass holidays in Key West was a good jumping off spot for this wide-ranging topic.

Through circumstance and serendipity, Terry ended up here in the Conch Republic, working some, painting some, massaging some.  Like so many of the locals who have migrated to this end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it, stunningly beautiful, relentlessly quirky, and ever constant in its reputation for left of the norm, he is melding into the matrix of personalities……but not entirely, and maybe never, a permanent member.

I often describe Key West as San Francisco on a tropical island.

Seeing the palm lined streets of fastidious Victorians ablaze with XMass lights; twined like candy canes up the palm trunks, spread like ersatz snow across mid-century modern pebble roofs, blowup Santas and reindeer bobbing frenetically in the trade breezes, is disconcerting at the very least, particularly for we who do NOT subscribe to XMass in any form or function. But more emblematic may be the native (and I suppose human) need to adhere to “The Season” in a place that is devoid of seasons at all.

80 degrees and stunning at 8am today, December 13.

So navigating Terry’s convoluted journey to this Caribbean subdivision of a small town prompted the further query of….

“What’s next?”.

If not Key West then where?

Unless you made your pilgrimage down the Overseas Highway back in the 70’s, when nurses from Chicago, students from Brown, and runaways from the cultural zeitgeist of that heady time, all arrived…….and stayed……and became full fledged members of the Conch Republic, then you are often an accidental transplant, lulled into stupophoric splendor by the sun, the water, and the manana mantra that infiltrates soul and sandal and anchors you to a mooring, albeit temporary, that requires a lot of will and a bit of courage to unhitch from.

Where does one wander after Paradise?

Where does one land?

Where will one find the collaboration of crazy that constitute life in Key West?

Where does one find the fortitude of will to make that ultimate decision to leave, knowing that dreams of soft wind and softer rain will haunt your visions forever more?

And so Terry waits.

For inspiration

For opportunity

For a vision of a life to come

And in his words:

“I live on the Island of Misfit Toys and wait to see where Santa will drop me next”




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