Going off island requires a certain reconfiguring of mindset.
There will be hoards of commuters and lines of cabs and lots of noise and smelly buses and anxious, irritable people with phones for ears and anxiety where smiles should be. There will be pavement and potholes and skyscrapers and sprawling suburban cookie cutters.
Not that we don’t have all those things in Key West. We do; well, except for skyscrapers and cookie cutter houses. Key West is pretty much Manhattan without the high rises. Here on the island, though, it’s hard to internalize angst while wearing a swimsuit cover-up for Saturday errands.
Few go “off island” willingly; it requires too much reconfiguring. Not to mention a digging into the back of the closet for what are now slightly mildew-y and excessively out-of-date mainland clothes and hard shoes.
A few turns of the annual calendar are enough for the brain to assume Key West is the real world. That flip flops with a sparkly button constitute dress shoes. That a pair of linen pants anGoing off island in January begs a question about smarts. It’s minus-freezing degrees anywhere off island and the coat, hat and gloves you once had are in a storage unit somewhere under the old Christmas decorationsd a sequined T-shirt are cocktail attire. That long pants, which aren’t jeans, are business appropriate.
Going off island in January begs a question about smarts. It’s minus-freezing degrees anywhere off island and the coat, hat and gloves you once had are in a storage unit somewhere under the old Christmas decorations. The only boots you have are the red Wellies used to ford flooded curbs, and they are neither style- nor warmth-appropriate for the District of Columbia.
Which is where I am headed today. Not without some trepidation, I must add. Back in the olden days, which roughly translate into any time before 2012, a trip to DC was as unremarkable. Navigating of O’Hare? Piece of the proverbial cake. Packing for a week of corporate meetings? I had lots of matching power clothes and could make them fit in a carry on.
No more. Two weeks after I walked out of the News Tower for the final time over two decades, I boxed up corporate suits, shoes, coats and accessories and donated them to the woman’s club. If I wouldn’t or couldn’t wear it in Key West, I paid it forward for someone else.
That was, of course, marvelous therapy for the next life. Today, four years later, anything that did make it to the island is hopelessly dated and a bit sniffy. Packing for a business meeting these days requires re-wearing of a red leather jacket and a black Hillary Clinton pants suit that hang in the back of the closet awaiting their twice or thrice yearly trek to big cities.
U.S. Congressman Mark Takai has the right idea. He’s petitioned the House of Representatives to allow “Aloha wear” on the House floor, which requires “business attire.”
As I searched for hard shoes and a pair of pantyhose this morning, it occurred to me that perhaps I could splurge on a retail shopping experience while in DC. Replenish the off-island wardrobe and some cute shoes. Nah.
Linda Grist Cunningham is editor and proprietor of KeyWestWatch Media, a digital media management company. She will admit to having squirreled away a 40-year-old mink coat just in case.