Farewell transmission

In a few weeks, I will embark on my most ambitious road trip thus far: An epic 40-hour, 2,700-mile journey from Miami to Los Angeles  — in a Fiat.

It is not the actual driving that will be my biggest challenge. Nor the inevitable lull in conversation, the ill-timed bathroom stops or the passive-aggressive “go ahead and play your music” that will break me. It is the fact that the car — the brand new, 7-month-old car — is already broken.

Bro-ken.

I had envisioned all sorts of  plot twists in my personal Cannonball Run movie, from getting pulled over to getting lost, but in every scenario, I imagined getting out of these messes with my Burt Reynolds-like charm (and mustache).

Yet, the thought of being stranded while driving through northern Florida, the southern tip of Alabama, and all of Louisiana, Texas and Arizona (or the states otherwise known as the places least qualified to handle a temperamental Italian Fiat driven by newlywed lesbians that are legal latinas in possession of a hairless dog from China) is making me rethink this whole adventure.

I was counting on my Fiat to whisk me through the deep South with little-to-no fanfare, but now I can’t be sure because the car, as if a perfectly constructed metaphor for the region its driving, only moves in reverse.

GuillermoThat’s right, I have a gearbox problem. More specifically, the problem stems from my 500L’s super fancy Euro twin-clutch, which, as it turns out, is not meant to be driven in heavy traffic, or in extreme weather, or too aggressively or too softly or…well, it’s not meant to be driven at all.

As I’m told, this dual transmission technology is the same system that is used in Ferraris. A fact that I will be sure to share with my car when its feeling bad about its appearance.

“Don’t be sad about your boxy figure Fiat 500L, you are really a Ferrari on the inside.”

I was informed of this ridiculous fact not by the sales guy 7 months ago, but by my service coordinator, Guillermo, who now has to fix my Fiatari. Like that bit of news was somehow supposed to make me feel better. That a group of Italian engineers had the wherewithal of installing the transmission of a Ferrari in a five-door wagon, but not, let’s say, I don’t know, a more comfortable arm rest. These brilliant men (I have full confidence they are all males), have done the equivalent of installing roller skates on a cow.

An analogy I’ll remember when I’m stranded on a dairy farm, pretending that my wife is my sister and my dog is a ferret and my car is a Chrysler.

Unluckily, the last one is not so far from the truth.

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See you later, alligators

I think the first place to close down that truly broke my heart was Castle Park. They tried to rename it Malibu Grand Prix, but it wasn’t the same. My childhood memories of playing arcade games and crashing a go-kart into a stack of tires without a helmet was only associated with the original, not the imitation.

Miami’s landscape has changed dramatically since then. And so did my hobbies, as I traded soda for vodka and mini-golf for dancing. Along the same lines, I became saddened by the closings Circa28, Transit Lounge and even further back in time…what was the name of that place in the Design District that had four floors and just one exit…Power Studios!

Of course. Oh it was glorious. It had five performance stages that featured salsa, hip-hop, jazz, and rock musicians; a gourmet restaurant; an art gallery; and an outdoor film space, but the whole thing could go up in flames with just one miscalculated butt of a Marlboro Light.

It’s been all downhill since then, especially with the deaths (more like outright murders) of Van Dyke Café and Zeke’s. From the demolishing of the Miami Herald building to the relocation of Score, more and more of my geographical landmarks have been taken away. Now when I give directions I have to start with, “Make a right at the corner of where that place we loved used to be, but is now a yoga pants store.” Somehow Tobacco Road has been confined to live aboard a cruise ship, while Jerry’s Famous Deli and Wolfie’s are just condemned to live in my memory. As of late, I bade farewell to the iconic Cameo and Finnegan’s River, which wasn’t that heartbreaking because as a woman you could expect to be finger-fucked on your way to the bathroom in either establishment.

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No. Thank you.

The latest rumor is that Yuca Restaurant is about to go and that’s just one bridge too far. Gloria Estefan once shut down Lincoln Road for an album release party, and I saw the whole thing from Yuca. Yuca, where Albita Rodriguez used to perform before she won a Grammy. Yuca, where members of the aging lesbian mafia can light up a joint and order Goat Cheese Croquetas without any judgement.

So, it is with deep sadness that I share with you my Miamian Resignation Letter.

see ya
I’m taking my talents to Skid Row.

Dear Miami, 

It is with deep regret that I inform you of my departure, effective two weeks from this letter.

This should come as no surprise, given your complete lack of attention to my interests. You refuse to have a gayborhood. You don’t offer well-paying jobs. You have done everything in your power to block the film industry and medical marijuana from taking residence here (is this somehow related?). And you hate live music for some reason. I should clarify that last point, live music as in sounds made from a band made up of real people playing real instruments at a bar and/or lounge, not a tween-aged DJ standing behind a laptop blaring out the Pitbull Pandora station.   

Perhaps that was too harsh. I’m sorry Miami. But, the truth is I’m mad at you.

I’m mad I can’t take my favorite parts of you in my suitcase, like the view from the Julia Tuttle and the entire menu from Soyka. I’m mad that people will ask me about my accent. I’m also mad that they will ask me about alligators because Miami happens to be in Florida. Bro, that’s so annoying. 

I’m also nervous.

I’m nervous about living in a city where Cubans are not the ruling class and where the mayor speaks perfect English. Will anyone know who DJ Laz or Pepe Billete are? Will the people that live there really have an uncle named Luke and not see the humor in calling him up and saying, “Capt. D Coming, Capt. D Coming, Capt. Coming,” and then hanging up? 

These jokes are going to fall flat in Los Angeles. Oh. Right. That’s where I’m going. 

I know what you’re thinking Miami, “OMG the traffic. If you would only wait until 2018 when we finish the Palmetto, then you are going to regret moving to LA.” And then you’re probably following up that thought with, “Pero, what’s wrong with you? The earth shakes there.”  

To answer your questions, yes, I know all of these things. I’ve also watched every episode of 90210 and Melrose Place, which, as I understand it, is nowhere near where I’m going to be living and is also not very current. But I can’t just stay here forever, Miami. I already gave you my youth, my money and in some corners of South Beach, my vomit.

I think the time has come to give each other a little space. Enough breathing room to actually miss each other. Because, in all seriousness, I have loved no other city like you. And although I’m really excited about starting a new life in L.A., you will always be my number 305. 

Con mucho, mucho amorrrrr,

Mari

 cc: Pitbull

I’m gonna marry her anyway

It’s 2 p.m. and somewhere in Miami there’s a throng of gays and lesbians scrambling to find rings and making impromptu bouquets. My heart is filled with overwhelming joy and can’t wait to see my basic cable channels flooded with images of happy couples kissing on the six o’clock news.

To clarify, what is happening is that a judge has allowed same-sex marriages to take place throughout Florida – even though there is an appeal pending.

Like a dark cloud over a gay pride parade, I can’t help but look up at that appeal and wonder if it’s going to ruin Lady Bunny’s make up.

I’m not sure that’s the right analogy.

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I’m just a bit concerned. This is the state of Florida. Strange things happen here. For example, on the heels of this announcement five counties have stopped marrying people all together. That’s right straight people of Duval County, you can’t get a quick courthouse wedding – how does it feel to be on the other end of the Lady Gaga stick now?

Something interesting does happen when you can’t really marry the person you love, and that is you learn to improvise.

Very early into our relationship, when I was still trying to impress her with my audaciousness, I convinced her to attend a pagan festival that honored the harvest moon. Several times we avoided each other’s glances to prevent embarrassing giggle attacks, except when we were invited to light a candle together and quietly set our intentions. There was something about that moment – one that we still talk about today – that felt like we were at our own wedding.

She is of the opinion that I orchestrated that whole thing to trick her into marrying me under some New Age binding spell, but I’m simply not that clever.

A few years after that, we proudly drove to the nearest Kinko’s (before the FedEx merger) and had our Miami-Dade County Domestic Partnership affidavit notarized by a lovely woman named Yosneidy who tried her best not to give us the side-eye.

Six weeks later we received our certificate, which, in case of an emergency, I could show to a nurse at Hialeah Hospital in the instance that she wouldn’t let me in the room to see the Librarian. Luckily, I’ve never had to use it. Mainly because I’m the one that is constantly injured and the Librarian is always needed in the room to translate my ailments in a way that doesn’t make me sound like I have Munchausen.

And a few years after that, we celebrated the accomplishment of our tenth anniversary on a white-sand beach and, with the sunset as our only witness, we exchanged bands and promises while barefoot.

So, you see, by my estimation, we’ve been sort-of married many times.

But honestly, I just want to be married-married for real one time.

And as much as I want to mark this historic day with my unofficial wife, it would be too much to bear to have my real, legal marriage taken away from me if the appeal doesn’t go the right way.

At the risk of sounding like a beauty pageant contestant, all I want is for all adults to be able to consensually marry the person they love. It’s not that hard. Ask the Attorney General of Florida, she’s done it twice (and twice divorced).

It seems like all signs are finally pointing in the right direction, so I’ve decided to begin chilling that champagne bottle a dear friend gave me expressly to open on the day when I finally got married.

In the meantime, I wait, I watch, I celebrate those who are much braver than me. Those willing to take the risk of having it all taken away. I’m grateful to them and are in awe of their strength.

This future Bridezilla wishes you Mazel tov!

1044074_392346337538152_831522883_n (for now)