Category Archives: Miami

Lagrimas Negras

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Coming back from Miami is never easy for me.
When I’m there, I feel like I’m at home.
When I’m in CA, I feel like a fish out of water.

Knowing this about myself, I made sure to hit the ground running. I had plans just about every night after I landed.
First night back: Date with hot Cuban (who shall henceforth be referred to as Hank Bacardi)
Second night back: rehearsal for my upcoming timbales recital (!) followed by a meal at a nearby Cuban restaurant

(Are you seeing the trend?)

Third day back: finalizing weekend plans
Fourth day back: enjoying left-over Cuban food, café, and sunshine in the morning; enjoying a fabulous Cuban (Cuban leaves grown in Nicaragua) cigar with a good friend; more Cuban food; and then dancing with Hank Bacardi. (Unfortunately, Hank Bacardi was otherwise detained and didn’t make it. My cousins who were to join us also couldn’t make it which lead to me being totally bummed out, but refusing to give in to the disappointment because I’d had such wonderful day.)

Fifth day back: Horseback riding and finishing a good book.

The problem with finishing a good book is that then it is over. It’s like saying goodbye to good friends.
I loved the book, but finishing it made me sad. It made me miss O.D. Churroman because he was the one who first got me into it. It made me miss Kaima because I knew he would have enjoyed it.

Slowly, but surely, missing Miami was catching up with me.

I had invited very few people to my timbales recital and, over the course of the week, most of them apologized and said they couldn’t make it.

The night before my performance I had the worst rehearsal of my life. I couldn’t keep a steady tempo. My teacher looked at me in shock and wondered what had happened to his amazing student. The whole band was super supportive and attributed my issues to pre-show jitters and offered words of wisdom on how I didn’t need to worry and how great it would be.

I knew it wasn’t that. I have no problem performing.
But not being able to shake it off and play the way I wanted too was only compounding the problem.

It finally became too much for me and I needed a release.

What I probably needed was a good cry, but I can’t cry on command and watching some movie to make me cry felt a bit too contrived.

With such a long day to follow, the last thing I wanted was to be hung-over so drinking was out of the question.

Not really sure what else to do, I reached out to a certain Yellow Shirted Conundrum: I either need a good cry or a good … *ahem*  So, what are you doing? Want to help me cry?

Being the gentlemen that he is, he responded in such a way as to bring a smile to my face.

It took enough of the edge off that I pushed through and had a fabulous recital.
I messed up, but not too horribly and was able to recover.
I was definitely on a high afterwards and went out.
And after I went out, I went dancing.
It was one of those magical nights where I didn’t stop dancing and every dance was a good one.
It seemed I had staved off the tears.
The magic had taken away the need to cry.

The next morning I was reading and enjoying breakfast when I got a message from Kaima: I miss you too.

The dam broke before I realized what had happened.

I told him about how great my playing had been and that I rocked.
Kaima: Of course you rock.
And then he was off to bed and “Have a super day, goldilocks.”

The tears would not stop after that and my mascara caused them to be black tears.
Lagrimas negras.

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“Aunque tú me has dejado en el abandono
aunque ya han muerto todas mis ilusiones,
en vez de maldecirte con justo encono
en mis sueños te colmo de bendiciones.
Sufro la inmensa pena de tu extravío
siento el dolor profundo de tu partida
y lloro sin que sepas que el llanto mío
tiene lágrimas negras”

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My Prima

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When I was much younger, a cousin came from New York to visit.
I thought she was the coolest.
She had this amazing style. Somehow she could wear black and not look like some gothic anything.
This was pre-Matrix, but she didn’t look like she came from there.
When I grew up, I wanted to be her.
I became enamored of all things New York and fell in love with the color black.

As I grew older I found my own style, but always held a special place in my heart for that mysterious cousin in black.
Eventually, she became a distant memory that came flying forward during one of my trips to Miami.
She and I met for breakfast at Versailles on Calle Ocho and spent the day together.
She was still so New York.
She was exactly the way I remembered her.
I still thought she was super cool.

When I was in Miami preparing for my trip to Cuba, she was there for me asking about what hopes and expectations I had for my trip.
When I came back, she was there to ask how it went.

When I wanted to move there, it would have been to her house.
(If I can find a way to move there in the next few years, it will be to her house first while looking for a place of my own.)

On this latest trip, it was her house I stayed in.
She went out of her way to make me feel comfortable and welcome and at home.
And I so did.

She gave me so much more than a place to sleep in between my many Miami adventures, she gave me her time and her energy and her ears.

She has this line she says (with all the excitement you can imagine) that I just love: I am going to say nothing and you tell me everything! 

She is super thoughtful and aware and gives so much of herself I was overwhelmed by how loved I felt.

She took me to breakfast (at Versailles on Calle 8, of course) and we talked.
She took me shopping to be sure I would have my café in the mornings when she wasn’t there.
She took me to the beach and we talked.

Not just any beach, either.  She took me to “El Farito” (The Lighthouse) on Key Biscayne which is “a classic Cuban beach” because she understood how much I love doing Cuban things.

We talked A LOT. About everything. She asked me HOW I could POSSIBLY read at the beach when I was surrounded by such beauty?
She asked what it was like for me in California.
She asked if I wanted to go to South Beach.
She shared her life experiences with me.

She is fiercely Cuban and fiercely American and fiercely New York and … well, she’s fierce.
She still wears black. In Miami.
I love that she has maintained her New York cool in one of the hottest cities in the continental U.S.

There were moments when she made me want to cry because she recalled something I had said years before and asked me how I felt about it now. Deep things and how had they changed for better or worse?

She listened.

Sometimes she didn’t agree with something I said, but it didn’t matter because I knew she was still hearing me.

I didn’t realize what a rare thing that was for me until I was presented with it.

She worked hard to ensure that my trip was everything I had hoped it would be.
There were moments where it was almost difficult for me to receive such an outpouring of “What do you want? I’ll try to make it happen.” Not that she ever uttered those exact words, but there were moments that I would just be sharing my reflections on one experience or another and, like magic, she could see past the thought into some deep desire I had and would try to make it happen for me. I can’t even explain it. Sometimes she could see what I wanted even better than I could.

She was telling me about a place that had “Cuban Sushi” and my face must have lit up because later she asked if I would like to go there and when we tried to go and the place was closed, she found another place with “Cuban-inspired Maki” and we went there instead. While we were there, I asked what Sake tasted like because I’d never had it. She described it to me, but then ordered some for us to share so that I could try it. It was such a small thing, and yet it was huge.

She had never been to Carnaval on The Mile and was happy to join me for part of it.
She felt comfortable enough to leave me enjoying a band while she went to check out a few different vendors (including her landlord who makes jewelry and had a booth there). She patiently sat on a bench while I danced to my heart’s content to the band I had flown across the country to see (Conjunto Progreso).

I find her incredibly inspiring. She is amazing in ways that I can only hope to be.
She is genuine and sweet and beyond intelligent.
I consider myself lucky to be related to her.

I had plenty of other magical experiences on my trip, but if all I had done was spent the few days I did with my Prima then I would have considered it a wonderful trip.

Packing for a Trip

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I had a few days before I was supposed to leave and every one kept asking if I was ready to go.

No.

I am not one of those people that packs a week in advance.
I am a night before kind of girl.

Granted, TWO nights before my trip I pulled out my suitcase and made sure to pack my bathing suit.

Then it was upon me: the night before my trip.
It was time to pack.

And it was time for deep thinking, apparently.

While I looked at my suitcase that had only my my bathing suit inside, and started thinking about what I wanted to wear while I was in Miami, I realized that I could be whoever I wanted to be while I was there. I could pack the best parts of myself and left behind the worn-out parts. The “ugly” parts.

My empty suitcase continued to amuse me while I wanted for my laundry to finish drying.

So I packed my suitcase full of shoes.

Was this the essence of who I had become?
Fabulous shoes and a love for Miami water?
Night and Day.
Did I really need anything else?

My musings were interrupted by a text message that read: Have a great time! Go be crazy! You deserve it!

Deserve it?
I had earned the right to be irresponsible and wild?
I looked at the impossibly short skirts I had buried in a drawer from a time when I was younger and wilder and irresponsible.
I could take them with. I could be whoever I wanted.

That was the problem, all I wanted to be was the best version of myself.
It seems that the best version of myself included 5.5″ red heels and lots of gold bracelets, but the version also included sneakers and a good book.

I learned that the best version of myself was sassy and sophisticated and practical… to a point.

I packed my hopes and expectations into my suitcase, slept for an hour or two, and then proceeded to get dressed and get ready for whatever the next 6 days would bring.

 

The Alignment of the Stars

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There I was, packing my bags and planning my move. I had no idea how I was going to get from place to place once I landed in Miami, but I knew I was going because I bought my one-way ticket.

Then a bought a return ticket for a week later.

Then I was only getting calls from staffing companies in Miami.

Having run the gamut of temping, I knew very well that signing up with an agency did not mean “Welcome to the workforce!”

I was waiting on a call from my friend Amanda’s company. They needed someone who does what I do and they had told her they would call me. Patience is not one of my virtues, and I guess taking a chance on a girl they had never met and lives across the country was not one of theirs. I never got a call.

Meanwhile, the Prima who had so graciously opened up her home and couch to me had asked me to develop a “real” plan. It seems that my tension and worries surrounding the move were not successfully conveyed to her and she was doing a lot of the worrying for me. So, off I went to plan for real.

With no real job prospects and no real money to pick-up and move across the country, the best real plan I could come up with was one that involved staying in California.

But… the stars! They were aligning!

Yes, they were. I think I just read them wrong.

Instead of “I’m not moving to Miami” it is “I’m not moving to Miami RIGHT NOW.”

Without the stars lining up the way they did, Miami would still be just a dream instead of a plan. A goal. Something that is going to happen.

It’s just not happening quite yet.

I’m Going to Miami

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The first time I stepped off of an airplane and into Miami I felt like I had finally come home. That was almost 8 years ago. Ever since then, I’ve desperately wanted to move there. I don’t know if I thought I couldn’t be a “real” Cuban unless I lived there, or if I just missed being in the Cuban community or what. I know that over the years my reasons have varied.

If I’m being honest, I know that originally the night life had a huge appeal for me. Now that I’m older and wiser, I have other reasons. I really do want to connect with other Cubanos. Having been born and raised in SoCal, I speak Spanish with a Mexican-accent… well, I used to. I worked hard to learn Cuban Spanish.

So, what has stopped me from just picking up and moving? I always had a reason. Every time I was laid-off or had move I thought, “Why don’t I just go Miami?” and every time I had some silly reason. For a while it was because I had a close group of friends in CA. Then it was because of a boy I didn’t want to leave (a boy who is no longer relevant). Then I found Cuban friends and didn’t feel the pull of the Miami-Cuban community the way I had before.

Now? Every single reason I’ve ever had to stay in CA has slowly been sifted away. And I’ve learned my lessons. Besides, after all these years, I still want it. If ever there was a perfect moment to get up and go, this is it.

LOOKOUT MIAMI! I’M COMING AND I AIN’T NEVER LEAVING!