I’m Still Alive. I Think.
*In case you’re wondering, no. I did not reach Miami and just keep on drivin’ — cruising along 1A with its bars and beaches and bars some more, dancing a jig along the twists and turns of this country’s southeastern tip before winding my way to Hwy 1, then following it across actual oceans of water, the highway like a big strand of drool dripping off the goatee of Florida, passing Key Largo and Islamorada and Duck Key and maybe stopping in No Name Key before reaching Key West because, let’s face it, No Name Key is probably more my style.
Not that I would know.
I did not do any of those things, though I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t tempted.
I wrote this post last Wednesday. Today is Sunday. I’m posting it today because I finally have some internet access on a computer. Travel, while awesome, isn’t always convenient for blogging. And I do believe this is the longest I’ve neglected the blog in… ever.
Many things have gone down since I wrote this 5 days ago, but we’ll start here:
I drove to Florida yesterday — a trip that, theoretically, should have taken over 12 hours to complete, but instead only took around 11, including the 45-minute pit stop to catch up with an old college buddy off of I-95. It is for this very reason that I cannot bring myself to shun social networking; while the number of Facebook “friends” tallied on one’s wall has little to nothing to do with one’s real life social circles, it really is a fantastic way to touch base with people you would otherwise probably never see again.
Whether that’s good or bad, I’m not quite sure. But at least it’s interesting.
See, while most people don’t mind letting acquaintances slip away, I have this very odd way of wanting to hang on to people — of wondering how they’re doing, of what’s happened in their lives since we last intersected orbits — and Facebook provides that lost connection.
It keeps people neatly tucked inside my radar screen.
You think that makes me a stalker. I think that makes me… curious.
Okay. I have to interrupt myself for a second. I just took a bite of one of the most delicious items I’ve ordered from a menu in a long, long time. My sister has to work today, and my mother and brother don’t arrive until tomorrow, so I’m finding myself inexplicably untethered for the first time in a while.
And what’s a girl to do when she finds herself in a strange city with an entire day to indulge in whatever she chooses?
Head to the apartment pool? Nah… there’s plenty of time for that.
Walk one of the many miles of gorgeous ocean shoreline? I’m pretty sure sand is overrated.
Lie out, relax, and attempt to expose some of this pasty whiteness to the miracle of UV rays? For my skin, I’m afraid, the situation is hopeless until next May.
Plus, I think I may have divulged by now — I’m not your average girl.
So. Instead of celebrating what Florida is best known for — that brilliant, white-hot sunshine — I plopped my ass back in the car and headed 40 minutes north to West Palm Beach in search of a cafe I read about on Urban Spoon.
I had a feeling it would be worth my time.
And it is.
When I finally arrived at Casper’s on Park after many turn-arounds and indecision about whether I should really drive this far, I no longer cared about what I might be getting myself into. I didn’t care, when I pulled up, that the restaurant was nowhere near the water or any of the more fashionable areas of West Palm. I didn’t care that there wasn’t a single other patron in sight, or that they don’t have wi-fi (the owner/chef, Giuseppe, informed me he hopes to change this soon), or that it was too balmy for my northerner-at-heart self to sit outside on the dog-friendly patio.
Casper, by the way, is the name of the owner’s dog.
I was so hungry by the time I walked in that I asked Giuseppe to bring me the best item on the menu. After debating out loud between the gumbo and the jambalaya, he selected the slightly higher-priced (though not expensive at under $10 for the bowl) pasta jambalaya.
Alex, the co-owner, poured me a glass of sangiovese while I set up shop at a corner table facing the patio. He also brought me this:
Photo taken with iPhone.
And I think that maybe a part of me fell in love.
Some dreamy French music was playing when I arrived, but after multiple issues with skipping CD’s, they switched to something — a sultry almost-techno slow dance something-or-other — that was significantly less palatable, but who the hell cares because here comes my jambalaya.
I originally felt slightly ridiculous as the steaming bowl of bowtie pasta, hot sausage, shrimp, Parmesan cheese, and other New Orleans delicacies was brought to my table on this balmy afternoon, but now I feel like I am probably the most brilliant person anywhere with an 100 mile radius.
Photo taken with iPhone.
Another couple has just arrived and is sitting on the patio with their cocker spaniel. They ordered sandwiches. And while I’m sure he sandwiches are delicious, it’s taking all of my willpower to not run out there and tell them how crazy they are for not ordering Creole from a transplant.
Do I sound like a snob?
I’m pretty sure I can’t help it.
If it’s any consolation, I don’t look like a snob with my nose running from the not-spicy-but-not-not-spicy jambalaya.
It kind of sneaks up on you.
But I finished the bowl.
And now there’s no way I’m squeezing myself into a bathing suit.
If there’s anything I learned about travel, it’s that you should never rule anything out.
But for right now, I’m perfectly content to finish my glass of wine, watch Giuseppe lovingly pet the couple’s dog out on the patio, and wash everything down with the complimentary shot of espresso (looks like it’s been softened with something like cream — thank God) they just placed in front of me, which is exactly the motivation I need in order to plant my butt back in the car and head to Hollywood.
Hollywood Florida, that is.
P.S. It’s not espresso. Giuseppe informed me that it’s chocolate wine. Cocoa di Vino. Which pretty much tastes like a shot of Bailey’s.
And this just became my favorite place ever.