There is a recurring conversation in my life about my enjoyment of urban life and my having grown weary of the suburbs. The question is always “why?” Why the cramped quarters and lack of parking? Why deal with crime and lack of a nice green yard for the small people to play on? Grit, dirt, danger: why?
Miami demonstrated why.
It began in the hotel. I am normally not impressed with anything hotel related. One star or four it is still just a bed, TV, and normally a small desk and chair. Sometimes small variances but Salt Lake City or Siam, still the same old bed, TV, and maybe some stock art in a frame bolted to the wall.
My room at the Sofitel Miami had a zebra print desk chair and a the lounge chair set at an angle facing the window, not the TV. It got my attention.
Then the city.
Art deco in cinder block and pastel colors may not be my top choice in architecture but when it is everywhere, when it is a theme repeated in everything, it creates atmosphere. It creates what is my biggest answer to those who question city living and wonder why I cringe at strip malls. I like a feeling of place. I like to feel that wherever I am is somewhere.
Miami did that. It felt like somewhere.
A friend of mine learned of my travel plans and suggested, adamantly, that I go visit Tamiami Trail aka Little Havana. He said I would like it. He is a smart guy.
I’m not sure why a place with chickens roaming free appeals to me, but it does. I do not want chickens myself, but I like being where others do. Miami had chickens.
Miami also has cigars. Now realize that not only do I not smoke but my religion forbids it. That being said I found watching people roll cigars by hand fascinating.
Some places that claim an ethnicity feel forced or fake, normally this happens when history has passed by and lame efforts of retrospective celebration are made. My neighborhood sports many more shamrocks than it does Irishmen, but little Havana worked.
Driving down the Dolphin expressway holding back the urge to curse how everyone was driving ten mph slower than the limit, looking at decor that looked like my 1984 Traper Keeper, and listening to the Miami Vice theme in my head, I decided I like Miami. It feels like somewhere. It is not my style. It is not my favorite. But I would like to go back. I would like to spend more time in a place that is not a Target, not an Olive Garden, not a Wal Mart.
Rest in peace Blanche, Dorothy, and Sophia.