Dispatch From The Deep Water

Somewhere in South Florida. April 2023.


Somewhere in South Florida, Fort Lauderdale mostly, I write this. I am here working on the first drafts of my next novel. I am dueling with myself over whether to write the remainder of the nineties or skip it until some other time. I winged my shadow in the standoff of decisions, yet I am writing and it is the back half of the nineties for now. I really want to write about Brian and his important influence, the other Mark with powdered sugar noses and declare my answer after years of being asked to father a child for someone. The nineties made me as much as any other decade and why not tell it all from the paths that wound through Louisville's Cherokee Park to the stick lady of First Street?

The weather has been blistering hot since I arrived last week, the wind has been moody from offshore to on and nary has there been a drop of rain. The landscape is scorched dry and I sometimes believe I am in Southern California without the Santa Anna. The Mean Season will come and my cracked lips will be grateful. I cannot complain in South Florida, only observe, unless I am stuck on that fatally clogged I-95 with more blockages than Cheney's heart.


April 2023. Photo by me.

The music that has been kidnapping my ears is from the Cure's albums: Seveteen Seconds, Faith and Disintegration. Listening to them puts me back in the seat of my Z as a teenager, afraid of going through with it with that guy with the funny hair, that sweaty handed nervousness and the guilt before I knew how his lips tasted. I need a little fear and nervousness in my head to get me to write what I need to write. I have to be back down there to touch the bottom of the pool of feelings.


A Fort Lauderdale canal. April 2023. Photo by me.

Back to the surface for air and a boat rips down the canal. The water parts in its wake like an undone zipper. Here I am far removed from my office, Rabbit Tobacco Field, and in another place I love that has a name too. A stray cat prowls (not a Hemingway cat), a lizard bobs its head and life slows down enough for me to spin it around in my mind to stare at it from different perspectives. I hear a fountain below me in the courtyard and around me I see a different Florida than what I knew before I ever came here fourteen years ago. This place is not a strip of road littered with Alvin's Island gift shops, put-put golf volcanoes and restaurants named after captains that serve fried seafood. This is a place I had not imagined existed in the states, but it does and this state is not a monolith or what we see presented to us in movies or the news. I cannot share the name, it would give away a secret that I want to keep for now. The name has no associations to Fort Lauderdale or South Florida or water or beaches or birds.


April 2023. Photo by me.

I am here to remind you that you are only as old as you feel. Though I may look old underneath my hat, SPF 1 zillion sunblock and behind my sunglasses, I suppose I am feeling pretty good at fifty after swimming against the current, walking through the dunes and getting spooked by the dolphins after being out too far. I have a long history of getting out too far into the deep water. Anyway, this little island paradise, which is not Fort Lauderdale, is my favorite beach from the Keys to Pensacola. You will likely never see me much happier than this. Life is funny … time to eat fresh oysters at this hole-in-the-wall that has walls plastered in one dollar bills signed by patrons – it can not be found on Trip Advisor or in Conde Nast Traveler.



The Cure, The Same Deep Water As You