I like to move it, move it

Not movingI’m writing to you today from the edge of my new granite kitchen counter with a cup of freshly-brewed coffee while Chaka Kahn’s Ain’t Nobody plays softly in the background.

As pleasant as this sounds, just one week ago I was slicing my fingertips with a packing tape dispenser, hailing down my moving truck while standing in the middle of a busy intersection, trying not to faint from the blood spilled all over my armoire and definitely not staring at the cleaning lady’s sixth finger.

This is the story of why I’m never moving again.

All dressed up and nowhere to go

The afterglow of the pain medication I took for an unfortunate back injury inspired me to make this the year to leave Miami for greener pastures.

So, I made a three-column list with all of the cities I was willing to live in and carefully researched each of them…and then I painstakingly eliminated all of them.

Close friends would not normally describe me as high-maintenance, but the notes I wrote in the margins were ripped out of an article from GQ titled, 10 Ways Your Girl is High-May. They ranged from “Eww” to “Not worth the money” to “Too cold and too hot.” And my personal favorite, “Am I going to be the only Cuban lesbian there?”

Miami para mi

So after eight months of intense searching across the country, we finally found our perfect place, which, as it turns out, was exactly 10 blocks away from our previous apartment and, according to the United States Postal Service, is within a Hialeah zip code, which is a win-win.

We leased the apartment the following morning after seeing it and scheduled our move date 10 days after that. And so begins my odyssey.

Two and a half men

There comes a time in your life when recruiting your friend with a truck to move you in exchange for pizza and beer is no longer a viable option. And because of this, you have no choice but to request quotes from places with comedic names like, Pipo’s Moving Co. and Three Guys and a Little Truck. After careful consideration, I went with a more reputable company, as it was strongly recommended and they were the only ones that sent out a guy to my place to actually look at the amount of crap that had to be moved.

The morning of the move, I get a phone call from Diondrick who needs a little help finding my apartment. After he names a few landmarks, I ask him if he sees the Ale House – a bar that is conveniently located across from my apartment – when he becomes agitated.

“The A.L. House?! Ma’m I’m not from Miami, I don’t know what that is!”

After standing in the middle of a busy intersection and waving down the truck, it finally pulls into the right place and I personally meet the acquaintance of the crew. Beginning with Diondrick, the driver, who is really sweet and nice when he is not yelling on the phone because he’s lost. He was joined by two others, James, the older guy who said a total of four words the whole time and Kendrick the younger kid, who immediately asked me for water, which is fine, I mean I hydrate before any strenuous activity too.

Ten minutes later Kendrick asked to use my bathroom, which is fine too, because I always make sure I empty my bowels before lifting anything so to never experience the horror of shitting in my pants. But when he asked to use the restroom again 20 minutes after that, I realized that something about this kid was very familiar to me. He looked the way I did the day after my 33rd birthday and it didn’t surprise me at all when he spent a good 15 minutes throwing up violently in my bathroom – all the while his colleagues hauled out my stuff, pretending that nothing was wrong.

When Kendrick emerged from my bathroom, I gave him my best I’m-so-disgusted-with-you-face, he told me that he had imbibed about three quarters of a bottle of Ciroc before heading out to Fat Tuesday the night before.

So, I did what any compassionate and empathetic person would do, I told him to go back into the bathroom and get it all out while we were still in the old place because I wasn’t going to let him puke in my new apartment.

After packing the truck, it took the movers an hour and a half to go 10 blocks because they stopped for lunch at Subway, which took 30 minutes, and then proceeded to get lost for 60 minutes.

When they finally arrived, Kendrick, my new drinking buddy, gave me a tour of my own apartment.

Kendrick: “Come here girl, come here. Did you know you got a tub?”

Me: “Wow.”

Kendrick: “Can I use the bathroom? I promise it’s just for number one.”

Me: “Fine.”

What you gon’ do with all that junk?

The next day I returned to my old apartment to patch the holes I made from my interior designing and to wait for the arrival of a junker. You see, I contracted a second company, a allegedly reputable one, to come and take away a few large pieces of furniture that I didn’t want anymore.

I chose them because they had a funny name and they promised to try to donate and/or recycle your crap, which made me feel much better about getting rid of items that were still in somewhat good condition.

After a traffic delay, two very young men arrived and assessed my junk: a small patio set, a rattan chest, a computer desk and an armoire, among a few other items. The lead guy, Angel, quoted me a price to which I agreed, albeit exorbitant for the job. It took them about 45 minutes to get the first 3 pieces downstairs, which dumbfounded me because Angel explained that they had 6 more jobs lined up for the day.

After accidentally locking themselves out of my complex, I went downstairs to rescue them when I noticed that their junk truck was filled to the brim, which is odd because they said that my stuff was going to take up half of the truck. Angel, who I should share was wearing gold-rimmed non-prescription eye glasses and a generous dose of cologne, interpreted the disgusted look on my face from being scammed as concern for his busy day when he told me not to worry that he was going straight to the dump after he loaded my items.

But, of course, that just made me even more angry.

Angel’s truck was so full that he had no choice but to break down all of my items, including a wooden six-foot armoire that he attempted to demolish by stomping on it until a piece of wood sliced his leg.

Blood spilled everywhere. And Angel’s strength, unlike his cologne, went away.

So, I had to help his assistant bring down some of the remaining items before giving them directions to the nearest Urgent Care. Luckily I’m very familiar with that facility.

I spent the rest of the day dumping the items that were left behind and taking what I could to Goodwill, all while trying to keep all of this from the Librarian because she never wanted me to use that company in the first place.

Ladyfingers

By 7 p.m. that night I wanted nothing more than to shower, crawl up in a ball and sleep for 9 hours straight. Instead I was standing on the sidewalk on Main Street under the rain, smelling like a middle school student after P.E. I was there waiting for Marion, the cleaning lady I had contracted through a Groupon deal. And just like a scene from a movie, she appeared out of nowhere, with her hair perfectly coiffed, wearing a crisp white shirt and gleaming white sneakers with perfectly ironed khaki’s in between. Her smile let me know that everything was going to be okay. She yelled, “Praise Jesus, God is good, I though I was lost!” To which I normally would make a face, but I was so happy to begin the culmination of my day that I responded, “Amen!”

As a matter of fact, I was so happy that when she introduced me to her shy assistant, I reached out both my hands to meet her apprehensive reach, which is when I felt her extra finger.

Now, let me state that I’m not grossed out by body deformities. My uncle had a lobster claw for a hand with only a thumb and a pinky, and everyone knows about my one-armed aunt. These things just make me curious, and the opportunity to observe a real live, Ann Boleyn, sixth finger was a real exciting prospect for me, until I realized what a dick I was being. So I let it go and let the women do their thing as they washed away the last remnants of me from my old apartment.

And then I got a really good look at it when we said our good-byes and it was glorious.

Bonus

Here are all of the inappropriate questions Kendrick asked in a span of five hours, when he was not puking:

  • Are you guys sisters?
  • How much is rent?
  • Why are you moving?
  • Do you drink?
  • Are you Spanish?
  • Do you know you have a tub?
  • Can I come visit you?
  • Do you eat sushi?
  • What does your tattoo mean?

Take five

Today is the fifth anniversary of Relativity. Before I pat myself in places, I just want to take a moment to reflect on the past year…

Cheers to another year.

Sweet home Hialeah

South Floridians love to use Hialeah as a punchline. And I get it. The city has a bad reputation for harboring corrupt politicians and nosy neighbors, as a haven for cheap rents and illegal workers, and as the home of the tackiest and loudest Cuban immigrants of the entire diaspora.

This place is so special that it only has one major street and outsiders still manage to get lost.

hialeah_entrance

Oh those outsiders. They think they can spend a few hours in the “City of Progress,” and then feel entitled to criticize and point fingers.

This weekend, I encountered one of “those” people – a pretentious beauty salon patron who wanted to lighten her hair, but didn’t necessarily want to go “Hialeah blonde.”

She said this loudly in an attempt to garner laughter. But when her punchline didn’t receive the clamor she was expecting, she tried it again, “Not a Hi-a-leah blonde,” this time emphasizing the “ah” in the middle.

Still, her joke was met with unbearable silence.

Partly because we were in a sophisticated salon, excuse me, hair studio located in Coral Gables and the insinuation that the stylist would be capable of doing a horrible job was met with a raised eyebrow and a slight puckering of lips. But mostly because, unbeknownst to her, the audience members of her comedy special were Hialeahan – myself included.

And at that moment, one of great impulse and little reasoning, I decided to go full blonde. Because I’m from Hialeah and I wanted to somehow prove a point that really didn’t require further evidence in the most passive aggressive way possible.

You see, Hialeah is twice my birthplace. The first birth came in the late seventies, when I fumbled out of my mother’s womb in the hospital that bears the city’s name. The second was a figurative birth, my entrée into adult life, which took place in the early 2000’s. Without a silver spoon or a safety net, the city welcomed me regardless of who I was or was no longer. Hialeah didn’t care that I was suddenly poor, she put her arm around me and said, “Honey, we are all broke.” Only she said it in Spanish.

I stuck around for five years and loved every moment. There is simply no place like it and here are the reasons why:

1. 49th Street is the parade route for every celebration and the road for every morning’s commute. Regardless of the occasion or the time of day, your speed is limited to 5 miles per hour. They had to build two Starbucks less than 1.5 miles from each other because by the time you get from one to the other, you’ll want a second cup.

2. Some crazy company swooped into Hialeah and decided they were going to change the mall’s name from Westland to Westfield. Two months after the name change, they changed it back when they realized no one could pronounce the new name.

westland-mall-hialeah-06

3. Hialeah is the last place in South Florida where you actually talk to your neighbors – and not just when there’s a Hurricane. Even when you don’t want to talk to them, they are talking to you. They want to know who you’re voting for. They ask for help reading and/or writing a letter. They show up with leftovers from the bakery. And, best of all, you can ask them for toilet paper in emergency situations.

4. Everyone knows where they can get anything at a cheaper price. Pick up a tomato at Publix Sabor and an old man from across the plantains will tell you that they are 10 cents a pound at Presidente Supermarket. Try on some shoes at Kohl’s and a woman will tell you that she just saw the same ones at Ross for $10 less. As you walk into Bed, Bath and Beyond someone will see you and give you their 10 percent coupon, claiming that they went inside and didn’t like anything.

sabor

5. Around every corner and at every turn there are some incredible stories – many of them tragic, many of them heartbreaking. From the abusive boyfriend to the victim of fraud to the lonely widow to the caretaker of an orphaned child – all of those stories live and thrive within these walls. But like the old adage goes, with great sadness comes great joy, which is why Hialeahans are so raucous and boisterous, why they defy fashion norms and trends and why they don’t conform or assimilate. They march to the beat of their own pots and pans.

And the reason why I’m not only blonde, I’m a Hialeah blonde.

blonde