July 31, 2009

Fun In The Sun

I had only a few days in Sarasota and I didn't have a car this time. So my blog buddy Jeaux kindly drove up to see me for lunch and conversation around the town. I hardly know Sarasota anymore; only the streets themselves are familiar. Most of the buildings continue to change as the city morphs into a patchwork paradise. (Some of those new patches really need to go, but Sarasota remains beautiful.)

Jeaux and I parked on Main Street

and strolled downtown to the bayfront.

We stopped for a drink by the bay, then headed back toward downtown through a small arts district (one of many). We found a restaurant ensconced under a banyan tree—but closed for renovation—that is now on our list to try.

It was time for lunch, so I picked the Columbia Restaurant on St. Armand's Circle.

It is one of the few restaurants that has been around since forever. Sitting in the open dining area, we began to have conversation at which Jeaux excels: one which truly enriches, this time exploring friendship, morality, and life after death. Jeaux has a way of asking questions that stay with me for weeks.

After lunch we took off on foot again around the Circle to North Lido, a stretch of undeveloped beach that is reminiscent of my earliest years here.

Jeaux, you will be saddened to note that, even though we saw a lot, we missed something pretty special. This is an actual copy of a Wikipedia entry for Sarasota:
Sarasota is a city located in Sarasota County on the southwestern coast of the state of Florida in the United States. Its current official limits include Sarasota Bay and several barrier islands between the bay and the Gulf of Mexico.

These islands separating Sarasota Bay from the Gulf near the city, known as keys, include Lido Key and Siesta Key, which are famous worldwide for the quality of their sandy beaches. In addition to their sandy beaches, Sarasota is known for their homosexual townspeople. These people attract many other homosexuals to the islands for a splendid vacation. Even more, on Lido Key, there is many gay and nude beaches where many tourists meet other homosexuals. Whereas Lido Key is known for their nude beaches, Siesta Key is known for gay marriages. Most gay people get married on this island.*
(The entry has since been edited to read like some dry social studies lesson. Meh. They should have left it alone.)

It was getting late and Jeaux had a long drive back home. Maybe our talks are so good because we are aware of limited time. Wouldn't it be amazing if we all felt like that when we met? Until next time, dear friend.

*From "A Gay Scandal on Sarasota's Wikipedia Entry! " by Robert Plunkett, Sarasota Magazine

All photos courtesy of the Interwebs


Jeaux said...

Birdie, it was great to have crossed paths with you in Sarasota. Lunch at Columbia was a revelation, and the conversation, as always, a delight. That restaurant tucked away under the banyan at Burns Court was like an apparition... I left a virtual homing device there that I will monitor closely.

I hope you won’t be saddened to learn, dear Bird, that we walked right through the gay section of north Lido on Wednesday. Yeah, that was it. The Wiki description you quoted is just wishful thinking, I’m afraid. I’m not surprised it was scrubbed, it was simply untrue. At the height of the season, weekends, the area has a scattering of gay guys and older men. And a few more come out to cruise around sunset. But Lido Key is not at all the festival of gay nude beaches the article implied. A bit of nude sunbathing does go on, but technically, it’s still illegal. Every now and again a cop will cross through, and while guys scramble for cover, the law usually doesn’t bother anybody unless something overtly indiscreet is going on. I’m not crazy about gay enclaves myself, but there is that ever present undercurrent of furtive sexuality there that seems compelling to some gay guys. I do prize north Lido for its wild natural beauty, though. It seems remarkably removed from civilization, considering its location, and unspoiled by it. Perhaps we’ll get a chance to share a sunset there, along with the black skimmers (and whatever local or visiting wildlife shows up, heh), some day.

Robert said...

Sounds like a perfect day to me! How wonderful is that to be near such lovely locale, with good company and enriching conversations...

A beautiful day indeed.