How do I describe a city like Miami? I think my reaction to it can best be summed up with a certain Facebook status I wrote while I was there: “Never before have I had the urge to go up to so many strangers and ask if I can take their (or their dog’s) picture”.
There were a lot of interesting people in Miami who made some interesting fashion choices. To say they were scantily clad would be an understatement. It was as if they were trying to see how little clothing they could get away with wearing without being arrested for public nudity. Remember how I said that in Key West there were some things that were a little tacky but nothing so far out of the bounds of good taste as to be horrifying? That was not the case in Miami. In Miami there were things so far out of the bounds of good taste, good taste wouldn’t even be able to get their phone calls.
Many people in Miami behaved in interesting ways and by interesting I mostly mean obnoxious. We had a tour bus guide who kept squawking and catcalling at people on the street. He screamed at a woman exiting the courthouse “Your husband told us to pick you up!” When my father asked if he should give the guy a tip I said no, which is also what I said when he suggested riding a bus with that guy again the next day. The guide we got the next day was much more pleasant. He gave a Florida trivia quiz. I aced it and was very proud of myself.
While walking the streets we encountered protesters holding up signs announcing that homosexuals, witches, atheists, abortionists, drunks, liars, thieves, adulturers, idolaters and fornicators were all going to hell. At least I’ll be in good company in the afterlife. I was horrified by the number of people I saw riding motorcycles without helmets. Then I saw someone riding a motorcycle without a helmet while taking a selfie.
Miami certainly has its good points though. For one thing, it has the some of most beautiful and vibrant art I’ve ever seen. Vibrant is how I would describe Miami in general. It’s a city that’s full of life and that knows how to party. I don’t care for that partying at 3 in the morning when I’m trying to sleep but I do have to admire the joi de vivre.
There are parts of Miami that are beautiful. Our trivia quiz tour guide told us that Miami is one of the cleanest cities in the U.S. and one of the few U.S cities with a tropical climate. The rip tides made the beaches unsafe for swimming but I got to swim in our hotel’s rooftop pool. Miami also has good food. I was skeptical of Cuban food at first because I figured I would find it too spicy but once I tried it I liked it Same goes for the pina colada I had with it.
There was a place called The Sugar Factory that had some of the most decadent, delicious looking desserts I have ever seen in my life. Unfortunately the night we went there I wasn’t feeling too well, so wanting to avoid a repeat of the Key West vomiting incident I decided to just leave it at spaghetti with butter (despite the fact that I specifically requested no meatballs, it was initially brought to me with meatballs. Everyone seems unable to believe that I could possibly want spaghetti with just butter) and forgo dessert. That was one of the hardest, most mature decisions of my life.
My favorite part of any vacation destination is usually the animals I encounter there. Like Key West, Miami had chickens running through its streets. While waiting for our tour bus we got to observe chicken families with cute little baby chicks. There was an interactive animal park that advertised the opportunity to get sloth-ed. I would have loved to have gotten sloth-ed but unfortunately for me my father and Gabrielle were not so eager to get sloth-ed.
We ventured out of Miami to take a trip to an everglades park. There we went on an air boat ride on which we encountered several alligators. Many of them were named some variation of Lily. None of them were as cute or cuddly as my dog Lily. In addition to alligators the reptile show had tortoises and toads. The tortoises wore signs on their backs that said “Stay back, I bite” and “Rent this space, call 1-800-Go Slow.” A woman in the audience was selected to kiss the toad. It did not turn in to a prince.
I consider Miami to be a fun place to visit but probably not the kind of place where I’d want to live. However, I know there are a lot of people who happily live in Miami. One of those people is my friend Jack. I had not seen Jack since high school so I was a bit nervous and apprehensive when he first contacted me about getting together. Six months before I had been a recluse and there was no way I would have considered getting together with someone from my past but I’m not the same person I was six months ago so I agreed to have dinner with Jack at my hotel. I’m glad I did.
After our dinner when I was lounging by the pool I got a text from him that read: “It was very nice to see you. I can hardly believe almost 14 years have passed now since high school. Thank you for the dinner and nostalgic Northerner conversation. I miss New Jersey said no one ever. Lol”
I replied with: “It was good to see you too. I had fun. I would have been too shy to reach out to you and suggest getting together so thank you for reaching out to me.”
When I left the pool and returned to the hotel room my father told me to start packing because tomorrow we would be leaving Miami and flying home. Our Florida vacation was coming to an end.