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Arts and Entertainment Monday, Feb. 13, 2012 7 years ago

A Love Letter to Sarasota - by Pamela Beck

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by: John Ewing

If it’s true (and it is) that I wear brighter colors and more revealing clothing in Sarasota than I ever did living up north, does this mean that I feel bolder here? And if that were the case, wouldn’t the reverse be true: that up north, I was somehow a meeker version of myself swaddled in all those earth tones?

Well then, no wonder I’ve moved here.  All that time wasted trying to convince myself that cold air makes you hearty.  Who was I kidding? Cold air makes you cold. And not to be Seuss-ian about it, but I do not like to be in pain; to be in pain makes me complain.

To clarify, I’m not so free in Sarasota that you will find me singing ABBA tunes at a karaoke bar; nor will I be seen jogging over the Ringling Bridge in short shorts or wearing anything in the chartreuse family.

But I will sign up at one of Sarasota’s many dance schools and learn the tango, now that I live in the sultry heat to fuel it.  And when Noise Ordinance 2 showcased a full day and night of 39 local bands at the Cock & Bull Pub, you bet I was there. Good news to learn that these groups play year-round at different venues in town.

To feed the dreamer in me, I’ll continue my frequent visits to the Ringling’s Venetian Gothic mansion, Ca’ d’Zan, and make believe I live there. What would it be like to see the world every day through the thousands of amethyst, ruby, emerald and blue stained-glass windowpanes that turn Ca’ d’Zan into Candyland? I'm not sure, but I do think I should be given the chance to try it.

In the end though, it’s the heat that’s the real inhibition buster for an ex cold weather warrior. When I step outside in a barely-there summer frock and am gobsmacked by a massive hot cloud of steamy tropicalia, all I can do is laugh and wonder how to get away with wearing even less than the flimsy dress I’ve already got on.

The warmth relaxes muscles and takes the edge off life concerns. Forget Bikram yoga or steam rooms. After a few months in Sarasota, perspective changes. That once-familiar edge appears so unnecessary now---all those bill deadlines, appointments and exercise programs. Overscheduling? Somehow it all gets done here without the mania. Autopay?  Yes, please! Leaves more time to bike to the beach with a picnic dinner after work. Better to toast to an evening swim with loved ones than to convince myself that watching MTV’s third season of 16 and Pregnant is sharing quality time with family.

Learning to balance work and play’s not easy in this town. For someone used to colder climes, it’s hard to drop the association that beaches, live music and streetside dining have with "vacation.”  This brings its own host of challenges. Waking up to that bright sunshine on a Tuesday, let’s say, makes it tough to accept that it’s a regular workday and kayaking through a mangrove tunnel will have no place in it.

Did I just say "mangrove?" Never said mangrove up north. "Apple orchard," yes; "hayfield," most certainly; but "mangrove"---fuhgeddaboudit. The closest I’ve ever gotten to a mangrove was when I tried to get a ticket to The Mangrove Slasher 2 at last year’s Sarasota Film Festival. (Don’t google Mangrove Slasher 1. There never was a 1. Don’t ask.)

But just knowing that the mangroves are there right around us, with all their primitive, dark, mysterious and tropical power reminds me that control is an illusion---or for those so inclined, that Hogwarts isn’t really so far away.  If a tree in a swamp can look like it’s about to ask me to dance, who am I to say no?

- Have your own things to say? E-mail guest submissions to Managing Editor Sara Stovall at [email protected].

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