Thursday, June 27, 2013

Ode to Miami

A strange thing happened about 6 months or so ago.

I realized I liked Miami.

I know, I am a changed woman.  I am completely aware that for about 4 out of our 5 years in Miami I hated it here (at least 9 months out of the year, I did always like winter). But I think I finally realized - It was having three kids under age 2 that was hard - not just living in Miami.  In fact, probably having lots of babies was what made the first 4 years here really hard.  Miami definitely complicated that since it's not a suburban utopia of ease and convenience, but now that the kids are older and easier and I can finally breathe, I realize - wow, I don't want to leave here.

The other factor was the weather.  I mentioned to Ryan the other day - I think it keeps getting less humid each year we live in Miami.  In fact, that first year we moved here must have been a record year for humidity.  :)  Ok, or maybe I've FINALLY adapted, but the bad part is it will never be the same.  When I come back to visit, all my years of developing resistance to the humidity will have vanished with my Utah-parched physique.  Even my hair has finally given up looking quite as awful as it once did - or I've just adapted to that as the norm as well.  :)

So when I started saying I liked Miami a few months ago and even mentioned to Ryan, "Well, I'd be fine staying here longer," (and watching his jaw hit the floor), friends told me:  You need to put that in writing.  So here I am, in permanent typeface saying that I am so so sad to leave and yes, I actually grew to love Miami. I could stay here a few more years and be perfectly happy.

So over the past months I have thought and watched and tried to live it up, breathe in the air, drive with the windows down, and burn in my memory all the favorite things, the details, the nuances that made my experience here what it was, and all those little things that I will hold dear to my heart.  My friend that moved away from Florida a few years ago said they look back and feel like there time here was just a dream. Some extended vacation.  That's my fear.  I don't want to forget and I want it to be real, so here are some of the details I wanted to remember, the daily little things that I loved and will remember about Miami.

Driving over the causeway every morning to Cash's school with the bright sunshine, crystal blue water and beautiful Miami skyline. Seeing the cruise ships right across from his school in the Port of Miami and being jealous of all those people getting on the ship with the big Mickey Mouse on it.

And in short:  Water. Everywhere. The bay by our house, the waterways, the ocean.


Palm trees. Beautifully groomed streets lined with palm trees.

Mangoes. Come March my boys start asking when we start eating mangoes again.  They know that by May we will be eating mangoes in some form with nearly every meal.

Wild rainstorms.

The people.  Eh, alright, not totally, but they did keep it colorful.  :)  A few were memorable and noteworthy, however:

The crazy neighborhood schizophrenic, or running man as I called him.  He would just run up and down the streets and then stop abruptly as if he had no idea what he was doing and start doing something else.  I often saw him sweeping the sidewalks or throwing loaves of bread in the air for the birds.  

The bookmobile man (and the bookmobile in general).  Every week the mobile library van came practically right to our doorstep.  Books and movies we'd requested online magically showed up and it was the highly anticipated event for the kids every Saturday.  The man onboard was as stereotypically librarian as they come - slightly introverted, slightly nerdy, fairly quiet and shy - but he watched our kids grow up year after year, knew them by name, waited patiently when we were running to catch them at the last second before they needed to leave (almost every week),  held books longer than he should for us, magically did away with our numerous fines, knew when we'd been out of town, noticed when one of us was missing, and super awkwardly accepted our baked goods at Christmastime.  Aww, we'll miss that guy.  Hmm, whose name I'm not sure I ever even knew.
The pharmacist who knew my husband was a doctor, saw us through babies, croup, lice, and who knows what else.  While she wasn't particularly friendly, she probably knew more about us than anyone else in Miami.

The Publix bakery workers.  They knew all my kids (Ryan and I have realized we are infinitely more popular when our children are with us), and gave them free cookies every time we were there, and they fueled my addiction to their brownie bites and chocolate cigars.

All the characters at LA Fitness. Loved the cool Cuban spin instructor with all the tattoos who would crank up the music when (yet another) one of her favorite Latin songs came on and scream, "THIS IS HOW WE DO IT IN THE 305!!!!" Everyone always in their proper cycling place - the section of hilarious gay guys to my left, the super fit black dude in the front, the muscular Latin guy down the row from him who never stayed until the end of class, the section of Hispanic ladies talking the whole time behind me, and the chick with butt implants prancing around outside the window, while the old dude with short shorts who hits on everyone would stretch obnoxiously on the equipment next to her.  Yep, all there.

This dude.

The crazy guy named Dream who was always dressed in random costumes floating around the Children's Museum or being the MC for the school programs, dancing for the audience in between numbers and pulling audience members out for a dance-off.  How can you not be colorful with a name like Dream?

Our awesome swimming pool.

I don't think I can emphasize enough how much we love our swimming pool.  A walk-in, zero-entry pool with a great shallow end for kids and big enough to swim laps in. And lined with palm trees so you can find a shady spot almost any time of day. Oh how I will miss this pool.

The view driving down the street to our house.  Ours is up there on the left, the orange-ish color.

Our building:

Sunrise over the bay out our window...

And our apartment, just so I remember...


Evening walks in our park that's right outside our house.

Really just our park in general.  The crazy things that go on there.  Tight rope walkers, adult men acting like ninjas, free yoga in the park that I didn't partake of after the instructor gave me his own used water bottle I looked so bad (I seriously cannot work out in the Miami heat and humidity, I have no idea how all these people go jogging here at noon in the summer).

Actually all the awesome parks in Miami period.  Almost all of them have shade covers and are fenced in.  They are so pleasant.

Having something to get all fancy for.  Probably not so many swanky black tie events in Provo Utah.


Having a front desk.  Don't know why really, but we looked at a condo once with no front desk and I hated it.  I like having someone get my packages for me and hold them safely.  I like someone warning me when someone is here so I have one minute to get my clothes on before they reach my apartment.  And I like feeling a little safer in Miami that there are no less than about 7 staff members around all the time - and EVERYONE knows our family.  Nice for a mom who has spent lots of nights alone here with her kids in Miami.

The blurry figures running up and down the hallways outside our apartment for exercise.  The little guy always trailing behind trying to keep up with the big boys (and getting much better at it). Phoenix always mad that he can never beat Cash, the other children in the building who were so excited to join in the running whenever they saw this.  It made for a good homework break when needed to burn off some energy.

The good times my kids had together and all the happy memories we have of them being so young and such good buddies.  Not so big on friends here that we would replace family with them.  We just had lots of together time and I'm not sure that will be quite the same once we're nearer to family and friends.  I LOVE watching these 4 little guys together.

It's amazing that we've gone from this (our first month here):

To this....





Our cool neighborhood.  We're right by the art district here - the largest outdoor graffiti museum in the world.  Street art on the walls everywhere.

And Fireman Derek - whose food truck I always go chasing down over in the art district for the best key lime pie in South Florida.

Little boys with long hair.  It's the norm here!  Thank goodness.  Now I have to go back to Utah and listen to everyone tell me to cut their hair.  (For the record, don't tell me to because you will make me upset.  :)

The Children's Museum - a huge part of our life here, not only because Cash's school was there but for all the playing we did before and after picking him up.

Hanging out with the "breakfast club" before school every morning at the playground and realizing only at the end of a year of friendship that we were comprised of a Mormon, a Latino, a stay-at-home dad, a Jewish mom and a lesbian couple. Makes you have faith that we're more alike than different when we don't put our differences in front of us and only recognize them in hindsight.

Finally hitting my groove and making some friends here.  Realizing how many nice people there were around and all the other great school parents from all over the world.  Even finding a group of moms to go hang out with on the weekends - even Cash's first grade teacher included!

Free Botox.  What.  I said it.  :)
(I don't think that stuff will be hanging around in a retina-only office.  :(

Visiting Ryan's work with the kids.

I'm pretty sure no other family considers "going out to eat" having hospital food (and being a treat at that).  :)  We got lots of laughs from co-workers that Ryan had brought the whole gang in for free hospital food.  Again.  But lots of smiles when people saw Ryan with his troop of boys trailing him around the hospital.

Flying right over our apartment every time we leave Miami and being able to recognize it from the air.

The coolness of Miami. Besides Will Smith's Welcome to Miami (which is remarkably accurate once you've lived here - $100,000 cars, everybody got 'em.... rainstorms ain't nothing to mess with...)  countless other singers croon (or rap, or yell, or cuss) about the 305 (yes I'll miss my area code), Calle Ocho, Dade County (ok, maybe those are all Pit Bull, but hello?  Flo Rida?  Why did that take me a year to catch on to his name?)

Anyhow, it's just fun to be somewhere happening. To see celebrity magazines full of stars hitting Miami Beach (why I never saw one famous person in my whole time there is beyond me). To be able to drive down the street down 10 blocks in the mini-van and park illegally cause no one cares anymore while I storm the streets with everyone else in Miami when the Heat win the championship. To have movies filmed in the park outside our house. To watch Step Up 3 and say - oh yeah, I watched them film that right in front of Cash's school.

Being cool by association.  Even though I'm still a stay at home mom with a van full of stinky kids, somehow it's way cooler cruising in a mini-van in  Miami Florida then it will be in um, Provo, Utah.

Being unique.  Nobody around me is like me.  When I bring snowman poop for bake sale (a.k.a. miniature marshmallows), people are snapping photos, texting their friends as I walk through the school.  In Utah blond, crafty and creative stay-at-home moms are a dime a dozen. (And no one here realizes you just have to Pinterest to come up with this stuff... so then I really seem ingenious.)

Kissing so many men that aren't my husband.  :)  Ha, just kidding (on the cheeks of course), but really, if I'm kissy kissy with your husbands know it's just a Latin thing.  I'm sure it will take me oh, like a day to realize that's totally awkward between two white people in the middle of Utah.

Even these girls, for as much work as they were! (I was involved with the Young Women at church for the last three years and man, it was a lot of work, but definitely rewarding.)

Throwing off the white balance in all my pictures with them.  :)  Every time I try to lighten a picture of them up so I can see their faces I'm so light in comparison I start to glow like I'm some angelic being....

Our atypical LDS ward here. The building that always had worms all over the foyer every week when we walked in (UGH all those creepy things that survive EVERYWHERE here!) Having lots of inexperienced people like us run the ward because there was no one else to do it.

FRIENDS!  It was like we had almost had extended family there by all our good friends that we hung out with that were almost like cousins to us.

And DEFINITELY these guys:

The photo that even made it on the news!:



We'll keep wearing that Miami HEAT decal on our car loud and proud!  I'm not sure anyone could win our hearts like the team just a few blocks down the street from us.... (Um, and it helps that they're freaking AWESOME.)

I wish I had more time to look back through the years of pictures and remember everything I love and pick out all my favorite photos.  I'm sure there is so much more, but with the chaos of moving and lack of time, this little snippet will have to do for now.

So as I sit here on the floor in an empty apartment, the place where I raised babies, spent sleepless nights, gained a few pounds, lost a few pounds, made friends and watched friends leave, laughed and cried, danced to Latin party music with the boys, ran in soaking wet from sudden rainstorms, watched my husband shine in his career, and the place where I grew into motherhood... I can't help but let the tears flow.  I keep asking Ryan to let us stay longer.  We already extended one day so I could have one last swim, one last beach visit, one last trip down Ocean Drive, but thankfully sleeping on the air mattress has finally given me the strength to let go and move on to the next chapter of my life.  :)   Thanks for the good times Miami.

And we're off...