Sunday, January 4, 2009

The street where I live..

I suppose I could call this piece "in the hood," but that smacks of us old folks trying out now out of style street speak. But I've been pondering this area where I now lay my head, of late, since I've been home with some kinda thing for the past week. Not my favorite way to transition into a new year.

When I moved to Sarasota from the Jersey Shore 7 years ago, I entertained a fantasy--as it turns out--fueled by myths about how inexpensive it would be to live in the Sunshine State. I saw myself living in a small condo downtown, working part-time and devoting myself to my own writing.

I ended up fairly close to town, on the "wrong side" of the tracks, a decidedly long walk downtown in a working class area. As you know by know, I work full time in retail and squeeze the rest of my life around that.

It lacks the shimmer, convenience and pace of downtown, but also the hefty price tag, even with the real estate collapse. However, I have come to appreciate the shabby chic of this old style Florida neighborhood, even with its rough edges. It kind of grows on ya.

Until the crash, in fact, my main worry became "redevelopment". I feared that as pressure grew to expand downtown, we would be ripe for a change in zoning that would lead to more high rise condos. And we would be displaced. In fact, as prices rose, some people put so much cash into fixing up these condos, I worried the complex would become too upscale for my undersized income. That too, has been paused.

The 40 condos in the Jefferson Club, as it is called, are quirky. You quickly learn, as repairs become needed, that there is no standard between the units, as if separate contractors did the work. And often not very well. Some of the electrical switches, for instance, were installed backwards. I heard a great story after I moved in, that it was built in the 1970s by mobsters to house their girlfriends. A colorful tale, for sure, but it would explain the freestyle construction. I confess to enjoying the off kilter charm. It fits.

When I first moved in, I could walk to a real Mexican restaurant, in which no one even spoke English. Unfortunately, it's been replaced by the standard Chinese take-out. A more pedestrian form of redevelopment.

Oh, well.

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