Hi you in the future. This was the Friday and Saturday (July 10-11) road trip from Coral Springs to Saint Petersburg to re-visit The Dali Museum and watch a baseball game. It was a lone trip and you were not embarrassed. Only you for thoughts, conversation, opinion, and entertainment. One can be alone.
So you didn’t leave at 5:30am on Friday like you wanted and instead left at little before 8am. It wasn’t inconvenient until the detour on Alligator Ally through Immokalee, a place you have never been.
The east coast Florida highways have more trees and greenery than the west it seems.
Only until you crossed the bridges, especially the highest bridge with the yellow suspension cables extending diagonally down that from afar seem like a golden spike, that you accepted that Saint Petersburg is a peninsula. Because of the earlier detour you didn’t arrive before noon. You arrived at the museum at 3pm though you entered Saint Pete by noon, but decided to eat a Publix veggie sub at a public park the size of one city block exactly. The park was nice enough and many people were sitting down on blankets. Parked on the street and slide coins in the meter. It became noticeable that those people where the city’s homeless. With the homeless spread across the park the non-homeless stayed clear. You were part of the homeless scene.
The first visit to The Dali Museum was on another road trip several years before with an ex-high school girlfriend not longer after your separation. The museum was smaller, but still there. I remember the very large paintings and the white pajama shaped dress she wore with black heels; thought it was too much. So a new three story museum was build in the same spot as the old. Three floors, but only the third floor for exhibition where the concrete spiral staircase leads. And so Dali and you were together again.
Let the others go in order and view each painting one after another like a doctor evaluating patient x-rays. No, you, you zagged when they zigged, went up when they went down. Leave the gallery and return later and view the paintings in reverse. Randomly jump without fear or thought from one to another. You drove the museum security nuts! They saw you multiple times. And again in circles. What must’ve they thought? There’s a crazy.
Dali ordered the gallery closed at 5:30.
Later that day after sofritas at Chipotle you drove for 10min to find a parking spot near Tropicana Field that wasn’t $15 expensive. Even $10 was too much and so you found one lot for $5. Turns out it was a city lot and that is why it was the least expensive the attendant explained and congratulated you for saving five dollars. So you parked there and walked the few minutes to the stadium.
Ten dollars was the cheapest ticket and you sat at the 300 level in the last of the last seats behind the outfield next to the electronic display boards. There was a tank full of sting rays below a board. A tank full sting rays?! The seats were aluminum benches just like the bleachers you find in high school gymnasiums. It was an indoor stadium and you were thankful for that because the heat was strong and you just wanted to sit and watch and clap for the home team a little. Final score Tampa Rays 3, Houston Astros 1.
And then around 10pm it was back to the bedroom you rented in Amy’s house not far from the stadium.
Open space and grass and heavy speaking drawl and trucks and jeeps. This is the Florida country. Every visit welcomes me just a little more.
There’s a likeness that bleeds from the nicer neighborhoods covering the lesser ones like a blanket making everything and all areas look nice. One balances the other.
On the fourth visit I arrive at the determination that Jacksonville like all cities or towns has a nicer and lesser areas. This is a step up from my original thought that this it was all just a large back swamp country brush lacking culture. A visit to the Cummer Art Museum and Gardens helped change my perception. And when I say ‘nicer neighborhood’ I really mean the Riverside neighborhood in which the museum resides with grand porches of late 20th century homes and willow trees bordering St. John’s River. A very quiet and southern feel.
And with this feeling of casting off city life do I wonder if life can be equally enjoyable in the country. Trade urbanism for nature, subway for motorway.
What kind of legacy do you create?
What kind of friends do you have?
What kind of family do you build?
What career do you toil at?
These visits to see my sister have been pattern forming; same activities followed by same thoughts of what is she doing here. There is little to say. Spend the time driving from store to store buying her things; groceries, cosmetics, blankets, just whatever comes to mind. In exchange for my troubles I’m allowed a visit to a museum to wander unsupervised.
A typical beach town. Continue north of Jacksonville Beach and experience Atlantic Beach and go a bit further for Neptune Beach. Beach town, cruising, people out walking, everyone wearing sunglasses just enjoying.
Five hours north of South Florida is a mud puddle called Jacksonville. An decent one. I’m being harsh. Deep appreciation of well maintained highways sets between the very edges of Indian River county upwards to Jacksonville. Makes you kinda proud. Tall trees along both sides north and south bound lanes. Roads free of junk and clear lane demarcations. Simple functional rest stations. And this being Florida the drive is largely a straight line with the occasional curve and mole hill.
I suck for posting this two months late. It’ll happen again. It’s habitual.
Getting around Jacksonville was super convenient. Slightly exaggerating there is one traffic light every two miles. At least this was the experience shuttling from Southside to Orange Park. Here’s an overly generalized observation: Orange Park is working class perhaps a little slummy while Southside is new construction, shoppes, manicured.
Taking in the northern coast beach and MOCA where my only humble goals of this trip.
Soft white powered sand characterizes the beach. The sand is as hard as a flat surface; hard enough that many early birds ride their bicycles on the beach. So don’t expect to sand castles and getting buried in sand. That is clearly out of the question. Plus there is nearly a football field sized distance between the edge of civilization and the ocean. This open space is the beach. The sunrise was nice and plenty of tourists and locals woke early to be rejuvenated and inspired by it.
Downtown Jacksonville was a let down. Maybe ’cause it was Saturday and downtowns in small mud cities usually empty on weekends. Regardless, downtown seemed a little blighted. Next to MOCA Jacksonville on the same block same attached building is the public library. Across a public center with circular fountain sans green space. Its relatively small. First impression driving on the street separating museum from the public center was the commotion at the library so much so that I initially thought the library was the museum. ‘An active art crowd. Great!’ I thought. It wasn’t the museum. Homeless locals hang out at the library and public center. Well, yeah.
Three of the five floors are exhibition space. The boutique cafe inside was closed. The front desk was very nice. She explained everything and genuinely welcomed me. Head down doing something as I entered she raised with a smile.
Quiet and lonely. Aside from security there was just one other museum patron. Eyes glance down, Mona Lisa frown. While I really enjoy art and museums I can’t say that I can intelligently critique art. My observations are of level of effort and thought the artist takes in creating their art. An appreciation and interest in their time and effort and skill. Hardly do I search for the concept or attempt to calculate their inspiration. In the permanent collection of MOCA Jacksonville are a series of Richard Anuszkiewicz paintings on second floor display. This was the highlight of the visit. That and the cute refreshing girl in the gift shop. Do Google, Wikipedia, and YouTube Richard Anuszkiewicz and then you too can name drop Op art.