Remember when I said I felt strangely numb about leaving my 7 year beach home and moving to the new furnished sublet on the water? Well that all culminated yesterday in a meltdown over a copiously dirty toaster oven. When I used to pet sit years ago for a millionaire on Treasure Island and stay at her place for weeks at a time, I noted that no matter what tax bracket you’re in, your toaster oven is always dirty. But this one took the proverbial cake. It looked like it was last cleaned never. That plus the pervasive old Florida mildew smell in the cabinets and a bed that made cement feel inviting, flipped my tear switch into high gear yesterday afternoon.

Thankfully, by the evening I’d made the acquaintance of the Gulfport Bay crew (or porch crew 2.0). Much like my old friends on 69th Ave, at least in the beginning, they were all warm, generous, curious and helpful. Retired feminist hippies, wealthy lesbians, another token vegan and a few friendly fisherman, rounded out by a contentious Chihuahua named Lucky. My dog only tried to eat him twice. I got the local low down on happenings and what to watch out for while watching dolphins and ducks frolicking in the sunset.

This morning I woke up to mist along the water and the smell of the sea. Walking Hailey, it was like a deserted enchanted forest. Gulfport is basically huge old trees intersected by hidden alleys and footpaths ringed by old wooden homes of all kinds. Crawling ivy is welcome and no tourists even set foot on the outskirts. We eagerly took in the silent hush of nature, exploring the surrounding streets. I saw three people in an hour. It was bliss.

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