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Vaga Bond: Uptown Girl

On Friday at 10AM, I headed for my new address in the Uptown section of St. Petersburg. Yes, that’s right.

Thank you, Billy Joel. I’m an Uptown Girl now.

On the way in I passed The Flamingo Bar, Beat poet Jack Kerouac’s favorite watering hole where you can still buy a shot-and-a-beer.

“I was surprised, as always, by how easy the act of leaving was, and how good it felt. The world was suddenly rich with possibility.” – Jack Kerouac, On the Road

One thing I’ve noticed about living in Florida is that everything seems temporary. In Pittsburgh, when you lived in a house, it felt permanent. It was built like a bunker, built to last 300 years or more. In Florida, it’s a different Zen thing. Here you can walk past a stucco mansion one day and the next time you walk by the whole house is gone, returned to an empty sandy lot. Someone waved the magic demolition wand and suddenly “House Be Gone.” St. Pete feels like the Wild West, where everything is under construction. I don’t know if it’s the housing market, or the termites, or the climate and the humidity, but home improvement never ends.

This time I’m renting a garage apartment in the historic Uptown neighborhood just north of downtown St. Pete. It’s filled with the same 1920’s Arts and Crafts-style bungalows as Crescent Heights was, but the lot sizes are significantly smaller. Everything feels crammed in. The houses are jumbled together and stacked on top of each other like there's no zoning law. It is a cozy feeling though, and it puts me in mind of the way I felt in San Francisco, without the steep hills. Plus, there's an element of zaniness that I find charming.

This neighborhood surrounds Round Lake Park and St. Anthony’s Hospital. It’s close enough to the St. Petersburg Shuffleboard Club, my favorite hangout, that I can see the shuffleboard courts from the street. And, as much as I enjoyed walking on the beach with my morning coffee, it’s nice to hop in my Honda CR-V and be ready to play my next friendly game or competitive match in three minutes.

I should also mention that St. Petersburg FL will spoil you because everything including the world-class beaches are within an easy 20-minute drive away. You can get lazy, fast.

I promised to be honest about my Vaga Bond adventure. Here are pictures of my new digs. The bedroom is a “work in progress” with some finishing touches that need to be, well, finished. At least this time I don’t need a ladder to get into the bed. That’s a plus.

The efficiency kitchen is a model of efficiency. It consists of a wine cooler fridge, a 2-burner hotplate, a Keurig coffeemaker, and a microwave. The Pampas grass is decoration.

La Cucina is certainly challenging my wry sense of humor, but so far, I’m making do quite nicely. That’s what adventure is all about.


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