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No Place Like Home: Let's get lost

© St. Petersburg Times
published January 27, 2002

No place like homeOne morning last week there was no top to the Trop.

Tampa became a five-story town again.

I honked delightedly because I couldn't see the billboard that commands me every day: "Honk if you didn't see this."

I couldn't see the newspaper a few feet in front of my porch.

I lost my neighbors and one of our cats, the fat one with the coat the color of fog.

While I was standing on the sidewalk, face turned to advancing sheets of mist, the stealth cat slipped unseen past my feet into the house. I was busy trying to disappear.

Tampa Bay doesn't lay claim to being "Fog Capital," but for a few days every winter (more if we're lucky) we're enshrouded, bemisted, decapitated, unhorizoned. We're caught in a stalemate between warm air and cooler water.

Pilots moan and traffic cops scarcely turn off their flashing lights. But the rest of get a gift.

For those blessed hours it takes the sun to burn through and tip the balance of power, we must move more slowly as we grope for landmarks. We can't lose ourselves in an indiscriminate 10-mile stare. The world is suddenly at hand, arm's length at best.

We can flirt with the notion of solitude in a teeming world, silence in a noisy one, shade in a scorching one.

One day last week I could see my paper clear as day from inside the house. The sun glistening off the dewy plastic was oddly dispiriting. But the weather report promised a wind shift to the southwest.

I began making plans to disappear.

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