Thursday, January 19, 2006

Chapter 2 - No Show

The Old Palm Harbor Farmer's Market and Sunset Celebration set in the historic district of Old Palm Harbor looked nothing like it's name implied, set on a patch of wilted grass and sand with a few raggedy tents set up and no historic district to speak of unless you counted the old little houses in need of paint, but we cruised around it a few times anyway, hoping, maybe, before we shitcanned the notion and headed back the way we had come. There was a time not long ago when we would have done this market in spite of what we knew and we would have been lucky to make back the 20 buck booth fee. We only had 20 bucks (and a check for a bank down in Fort Meyers for $39.00) so we were desperate enough to do anything but we've learned to follow our instincts on this because although you can actually pull out some money from one of these types of shows the cost on you spirit is far greater than the nickels you might make. A show like this can actually put you into a loser spiral and you take the feeling with you and your work will show it later, as will your demeanor -- a kind of slack jawed, drool forming, dull eyed acceptance of the worst.

We headed down to Fort Meyers where the Fleamasters Fleamarket begins tomorrow morning. On the way I slipped in to a little rest area just south of Palm Harbor and taking a wrong turn found myself driving next to a little deserted beach area, empty of people or houses for a half mile in each direction, with a low tide and calm blue ocean, so I pulled off the road and let the dogs flop around on the muck and slime and this cheered them up considerably. They have been depressed of late since, with our recent arrival, they are not in a routine yet. One that must include a lot of water. Lucky, our 8 year old golden characteristically trotted into the ocean and flopped down on her belly with her tongue lolling out, just resting there with a big smile for me. I smiled back. My girl has been sick lately with a nasty cough, ever since she got loose at a truck stop south of Tampa and crawled into a ditch full of diesel that some idiot had dumped.

As soon as this ritualistic baptism was complete she strode around the white sand beach and found a rotting blowfish to roll on. I was on her quick with the stentorian syllables that she has come to take as the voice that's bestowing her the most attention and she trotted back into the ocean with a backward smile as if to say, "I know daddy, chill, I'll wash it off."

J had come out onto the beach and accidentally disturbed a male and female egret guarding their nest. The male, she told me, ruffled his feathers and spread his big wings so she spoke softly saying she was sorry and stepped back. She immitated him he easing his head back down into his shoulders with half-closed eyes and smile. She made the bittersweet comment that these creatures had better parenting instincts than most of our parents.

This little natural repreive from the malls and parking lots ended after about 20 minutes and we got back on the road south. I wanted to walk back and get some of the whitest, softest sand I had ever encountered and J wanted to know why. I told her I wanted it for sand to mix with cement and dye so that I could create my own concrete beads, "you know with little bits of wire in them and crosshatched patterns..." I saw her head drop. Whenever I mentioned one of my jewelry ideas it was tantamount to telling her I loved poverty. I did not go back for the sand but logged the place in the strange little workshop of my mind where I store this kind of stuff.

A very productive drive down as she finished about 10 more sets of earrings, each a little work of art made with silver wire, pearl, stones. All beautiful sets dangling and shimmering from the little tray she had mounted onto the dashboard. But it is a long drive down, over 150 miles and I was beat by the end of it and almost got into an accident when my mind saw a dimninutive policeman walking outside a restaurant and thought of Barney Fife and what a fine actor Don Knotts really was and how well his humor might translate today, set in an urbanizing backward area. "Stop!" she yelled and I did, in time.

So after we cashed the check we pulled into the Wal*Mart off 75 and went in for our burger and helper, both happy to be back there with its camping RV's and conversion vans and security guards driving around all night. Earlier we had heard an NPR story that indicated Sam Walton made more in a week than most of his employees make in a lifetime, or something like that. Always Wal*Mart is on the forefront of discussion about workers and wage but for two such as J and me and our dogs Sam Walton is an angel of a man. And as J pointed out later the workers at Wal*Mart never seem to be hating it all that much. Still, we got some hateful stares from rednecks in big shiny trucks as I cooked the mess behind the door of the silver bullet. We suspect it might be because we represent some sort of threat to their debt riddled lives, living out of our van the way we do. These hate stares seem to be especially prevalent down here in Fort Meyers and J thinks it is because the very rich are jammed together with the poor, chafing them. I don't fucking know. I just know the climate is not a very tolerant one. Gas prices are higher and I would love to live up in Tampa where everyone seems to be nicer and happier but there seems to be little money to be made up there.

A nice breezey Florida night outside a Starbucks. My birthday. I'm 45, married with two dogs and I live in a 1999 Ford Windstar, two payments behind, with the front bumper duct taped on. I wonder what it's like in France, Greece, Spain.

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