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.

cameo
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 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?

Rent

Every night, between the hours of 8 and 10, I’m reminded to measure my life in love.

Thanks to the community theater located directly below my apartment.

During the show, I sit quietly, without turning on the television or blasting Spotify, not to disturb their production of Rent. I figure, if I can hear them, they can certainly hear me. I even time my bathroom breaks not to coincide with the more solemn parts of the musical, like Angel’s death and Mimi’s near demise. It’s the least I can do to support the Arts.

While most sane people would most likely be over this situation, the play couldn’t have come at a better time in my life. Every night I get to escape for a few hours and pretend I live above a bohemian artist enclave in Alphabet City. I join them in their wild optimism for finding a cure for AIDS in our lifetime, and in their pursuit for working for love and not money. I forget everything I’m afraid of and remember everything that is good. That death is a certainty and that life is made up of a few minutes, so I should make the most of it, all the time.

That’s a pretty amazing affirmation to have every single night.

So, to show my appreciation, next month, I will pay my rent with one thousand sweet kisses.