Saturday, March 26, 2016

Miami, I love You

{ Vintage posters }
Four years ago, I came to Paris on a school trip and was supposed to leave towards the end of June. The sun would set late into the night, I got to see all of my friends, walk for hours, ate amazing food, yet I was so homesick during the trip that I moved up my flight to get home sooner, much to the surprise of well, everyone. 

During my time in Paris, I've come to see homesickness in many stages, much like grief (drama). Sometimes I'll mention I'm homesick somewhere on social media and then I receive texts from friends with lots of sad emojis. But not all homesick stages are sad, sometimes you just miss gigantic supermarkets, a fridge that you don't have to defrost every month, the sun, the little things.

If you know me, I'm known as The Girl Who Hates Miami. When I look at my Instagram feed, I'll find these gorgeous photos of Miami and the tags will read things like #IstillhateyouMiami. And I regret nothing because Miami can be a totally complicated pigsty of distaste and debauchery. 

The sun is great but it shines at incredible temperatures year-round, your makeup bleeds onto your blouse in the five minute walk from your ice box-like car to that job interview you have been nervous about, the top half of your body will always be darker than the bottom half, traffic is insane at all hours of the day, you can't go anywhere without your trusty Sunpass, parking is ridiculously expensive (an evening out with friends at a bar can rack up a tab of 25 dollars before you even get to the bar, add on drinks, tip and well you're done for the month), people will yell curse words at you in traffic, yell at you for not speaking Spanish, and on any given day, you can run into someone in a bathing suit (or naked) even an hour away from any beach or body of water (maybe this would be on the pro list of some people). 

When I miss and remember Miami fondly, I skip all of this. I forget that I hated feeling stuck in the same place, running into people I went to middle school with at the doctor's office, sitting in traffic for two hours on the way to work in the morning, not being able to walk anywhere without melting, the over-familiar treatment of my latin peers that seem to have zero regard for personal space, grabbing onto the steering wheel and leaving a layer of skin on it. Even now, when I'm browsing online for photos that will take me back home, I have to comb through the images of sweaty, douchey looking guys at the club and the girls with them that seem to have lost everything in their wardrobe except for underwear in a fire, and I think Miami, you seventh circle of hell. 

And all of the sudden, I miss it all. I miss wearing colors, browsing the gigantic aisles in Publix, complaining about GMOs and staring into stalls of fresh produce, popping into any bakery for a Cuban coffee and a pastry (giving the lady back the little cups- because, girl, I am drinking this colada on my own), waking up with light and sun outside my window, jogging at the park before starting my day, driving to the beach with the windows down and through the trees in Coral Gables, saying half of your sentence in Spanish without anyone batting an eye, machines everywhere that make your life easier, taking the shortcut through my old university, fresh ceviche, the beach, smoothies in the Grove, picking strawberries in Homestead, Art Deco buildings, everything. 

I am just dying for someone to smile, to call me mami despite not knowing me at all, to be genuinely helpful. The familiarity I loathed (neighbors that ask you how your appointment went, for example), I now miss incredibly; that warmth in people that makes them ask things, care, be present, help, that makes you feel human. In Miami it's more it's not a problem, we can do that and in Paris it's mostly no, no, no, that's not possible. 

I always joke that I'm missing a Hispanic gene, I'm not incredibly fond of Cuban food, I never know the hip songs, and among my friends, I sometimes feel incredibly disconnected from my culture. I always felt rather out of place in Miami, like it didn't go with my reserved, mind-my-own-business nature, and was convinced Paris fit me perfectly. But the distant, cold, allure of Paris can make you feel forgotten, neglected, and invisible, like you could pass out in the middle of the street and no one would stop a second to notice. 

A couple of weeks ago, while speaking to an American teacher in my university, she complimented my English, saying that I "had a little bit of an accent" but that it "was so good" and wondered where I had taken classes to speak so well. For a few seconds, I was pretty offended, and harshly reminded that while in France, I'm American, in the U.S my status is a little different, I'm part of the people with "a little bit of an accent," the kind we want to keep away with 55-feet walls. I responded that I was from Miami, actually, and that I learned English in the U.S, where I was from (technically, anyway). Years ago, a girl in my university who came from a different part of Florida also made a snarky comment about my accent, followed by a very condescending so cute! It's comical to realize that with time and a little bit of distance, I'd wear my Miami accent with pride, this is how we all speak and it's just fabulous. 

Despite my constant homesickness, I'm having a marvelous time in Paris. Every day is challenging, sure, but no two days look the same. This city is home to its unique set of charms, that you come to miss once you move away. I'm currently going through the phase of homesickness where you want your pastelitos and you want to want to eat them too.

In a way, we have the best of both worlds. We can enjoy Paris on its good days and always know that home is nine hours away, where your family will always be at the airport, tears on their cheeks like if you came back from a war, ready to welcome you again. Cochero, a la Carreta! 

I'm counting down the days to weekends spent by the pool, BBQs, grapefruit margaritas, watching my dog twirl and twist under the sun, family trips to Costco and the keys, and jogging at the beach. 

Filed under words I never thought I'd say: Miami, I love you, and I miss you.

PS, did you see that CNN poll of primary results in Florida? We're pretty. special.