Monday, November 22, 2010

Florida Detour

I went on a bit of cross-country jaunt across the US last week. I was attending a work-related conference in Phoenix Arizona for the first part of the week but instead of flying straight back to NYC on Thursday (as was originally planned), I made a "small detour" (2 flights and 6 hours later) to Treasure Island for the weekend, a small beach community 45 minutes away from Tampa airport on the West coast of Florida.

My lovely friend FM moved there from New York about 6 months ago (I have document her endlessly fun goodbye parties before) and although I had promised to visit her, last weekend was the only conceivable time I could do it and also happened to be the one when our mutual and much, much beloved friends LJ and NS were visiting her, promising it to be a very merry time indeed.

I must first say that I didn't see much of Phoenix, a city that I expected very little of because it is new and has spread at an incredible pace in the past 50 years or so to become a very large and quite soulless suburban landscape (or so I have been told). The conference was in Scottsdale, an upper middle class neighbourhood in town (seemingly strewn with shopping malls) and most of my time was confined within the four walls of our rather luxurious hotel. We did however get time one day to drive the 2.5 hours it takes to get to the beautiful Sedona valley and its amazing red mountains towering high over the otherwise desert landscape.

But back to the fun Florida part. I didn't expect Treasure Island to be quite so beautiful but rows upon rows of pastel colored houses and the clear blue sea and powder white sand reminded me very much of being in the Keys. TI is primarily a retirement community but it somehow added to its charm. It's very laid back and the night scene, if you are a young and single, is non-existent. Which is probably why I liked it so much.

We spent our days on a motor boat rented from "Frenchy's" (the irony of that did not go unnoticed and was the butt of many jokes), roaming the open sea and adjacent canals, spotting dolphins, with music blaring out of our iPod speakers (the highly danceable Florida's "Club can't handle me" was our theme tune for the weekend - I still can't get it out of my head!) and drinking from mini-Chardonnay bottles (right in front of the sticker on the boat saying "Don't drink & drive" of course). The other part was spent lazily lying on the beach while a sand castle building competition was going on much to our amusement, or cooking a lavish and calorie-ladden breakfast for each other.

FM's gorgeous house was the perfect base for us, minutes away from beach, coffee (I learned to love 7/11's) and the infamous Captain Kosmako's restaurant/club. We ventured there on Saturday night and it was actually like stepping back into the 70s, from the decor, to the ambiance, the food and the clientele. But we loved everything about it - especially the fact that we were the youngest patrons by about 30 years! We danced the night away with these amazing, full of life, retirees. My family gatherings in France always include many generations and so I know how to dance (but probably quite atrociously) to most things. A skill that came in rather handy that night as LJ and I twirled around the dance floor and salsa danced without a care in the world.

The weekend I just had may seem like one in many - it is and that is very much a key component to my happiness. I love New York dearly and feel like I have mastered it as much as one really can - which is not very much. But nothing makes me happier than going away from it and coming back. I realize very much that my time here, and this moment in time in my life, is precious and probably counted. Surely no one can be afforded such unbridled fun for very long! So I want to carry on making the most of it, for as long as I possibly can ...

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