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Danielle Williams

I leave for a trip to a place I’ve never been, explore sights I’ve never seen, and meet people much different than I.

I return home with fond memories of my experience, souvenirs with the location’s name displayed in all its glory, and stories I will remember until my time on this earth runs out.

Or so I thought.


A few years ago, I visited Key West for a long weekend with my parents and siblings.

A few weeks ago, I revisited Key West with my siblings, my cousins, and my boyfriend. I planned for a trip with the idea that I remembered every detail of the beautiful, wacky, cozy island.

Mallory Square

On our drive from Fort Lauderdale Airport to Key West, a strange feeling came over me. It was a bit different than I remembered.

I understand our memories are typically warped by our feelings, our perspective on life, and many other factors at the time. But it made me wonder if visiting a location once is enough.

“…it made me wonder if visiting a location once is enough.”

I make it very known that my ultimate goal in life is to see every state of America at least once before I die. To see every region of my own country once seemed like a respectable goal to have as a teen. Now, though, I wonder if that’s enough.

As we drove through the Florida Keys, I couldn’t help but notice that my memories were more glamorous than the reality. The islands themselves looked more dingy than I remembered—the trees and grass looked less well-kept.

Key West itself had more shack houses than I remembered. The houses are close together with some looking more run down than others. Almost all the bars were “divey.” Everything is packed tight down Duval Street, and the beaches aren’t quite Insta-worthy.

On the contrary, driving over the bridges was as gorgeous as I remembered. The crystal blue and sea green colors crashed in the ocean as the depths of the floor changed and populated with sea grass. The calm waters left a smooth path for boats to skip from island to island.

I love Key West. I crave the island vibes and adore the people who live there. The overall feel is relaxed and worry-free. (I chalk it up to the fact that most people walking the streets are tourists on vacation who don’t give a damn about anything. That’s not a scientifically proven fact, but I spoke to a couple natives of Key West and each of them said they spend most of their time on their boats and the beaches off shore.)

Street Art Key West

Despite my admiration for the Keys, I’m still starting to feel like I should start doubling up on certain vacation spots.

I remember a trip enough to provide recommendations and a valid opinion. My opinions of Key West haven’t changed from the first time I visited. However, I have more educated opinions now that I’ve been there twice. I know seeing a place twice doesn’t exactly make me an expert, but it helps solidify or correct any memories I had from my first visit.

I don’t want to remember a place with the dreamy haze induced by a vacation high. I want to remember a place for its reality and see it through a native’s eye.


So, what’s your take on it? Do you think we should visit places more than once?

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