The first version of this post got lost in the WordPress twilight zone. Great one-liners gone forever. So alas … I start over …
Maybe two weeks before South Beach Spring Break Birthday 2017, planning commenced. I initially was interested in a trip to Miami because Erin was already going to be there with her husband, and it was only a 3hr drive away. But I was also reasonably suspicious because of all of the potential drunkards I might tango with. I hadn’t visited South Beach since my own college Spring Break and Easter Break shenanigans. Yes, y’all know who you are … I won’t name names. The point is, I didn’t want to spend any time with the younger version of myself at my newest age. And thankfully, I didn’t. The good thing about being older is that the young people know that you’re older. They don’t want to hang with you any more than you want to hang with them so you coexist quite nicely. You’re not even awake at the same times of the day. We met the world from 8AM-12AM (with a nap from 5-7 for me). I don’t know what other people were doing.
So Erin extended her stay, a hotel was booked, a rental car reserved, new clothes were bought. I drove down on Saturday, right through alligator alley. Yes, that is a real place. A stretch of several miles with no gas or real amenities. Just “rest areas” which are not any place I want to rest. In fact, an hour out from South Beach I needed to use the restroom, and I seriously considered holding it and risking an accident. I live in the South, and the truth about how some people treat Black people is not lost on me. Florida IS THE SOUTH notwithstanding the happy trappings of Disney World, Magic Kingdom, and Miami. (So say the numerous Confederate Flag bumper stickers I spot.) But I really needed to urinate so I decided to leave the safety of my fast moving car. I kept my head low, avoided eye contact, and got out … quickly. And I texted Erin so someone knew I had stopped. It wouldn’t save my life, but at least help my loved ones triangulate where I’d been taken. Sigh … Traveling alone while black, and I couldn’t stop thinking that Sandra Bland allegedly had not indicated switching lanes. But as I entered Miami, my morbid thoughts wafted away so I could focus on the goal of the day … fun.
This trip was so much fun. We had not hung out since November, and as lovely as those 11 days had been, they couldn’t hold a candle to the heat, good food, and rampant lack of responsibility we had in Miami. Highlights include Taquiza, Yardbird, Get Out, National Hotel heated pool, Pura Vida, and walking a lot. Our days spent weaving long walks, crazy stories, the pool, drinking, eating. It was a glorious time spent with my sister. Here are some things that need to be discussed in more detail:
- We fell into Taquiza. Walking down the road looking for dinner, we smelled something yum and spotted hipster string lighting stretching outward from the side of a building. If string lighting is strung a certain way, and I see an uber eats sign and a chalkboard, I stop to inquire. Erin said to me, “Are there seats?” This was code for, is this place below your standards cuz it smells good to me? I replied as I veered closer, “I don’t see any seats, but I’m sure some will clear up by the time we get our food.” This was code for, I want to eat here. I’m salivating. So we drew closer to the chalkboard and selected almost every taco, totopos with guacamole, two elotes, and a beer for E. Barbacoa, mariscos, pollo, and a selection of pork. All were delicious although E said the pollo was a little salty. The totopos are special – blue corn chips that are puffy and soft and salty. The elote nearly broke my heart – how does corn on the cob achieve such sweetness?
- Yardbird. You need to eat their fried chicken. It is worthy of all of your love and admiration. Get some veggie side dishes so that you can say you’ve eaten veggies. Really, it’s all about the biscuits, fried chicken, and mason jar bourbon drinks. And to Yardbird, get rid of the stupid watermelon on one of your fried chicken dishes. It’s so cliche. And Pat’s mom could help you with your mac & cheese for a fee. I gladly ate it, but I warn you that Black people are likely to drag you for it. If you care … it looks like you print paper.
- Get Out is movie of the year. I laughed so hard I cried. I also had a sick unsettling feeling. Jordan Peele has given us something to discuss, and I’m officially mad at anyone who tells me they don’t want to see it because it’s a horror film. Real life is way scarier than anything you could experience in the 2hrs of this film … unless you’re white, and then in that case you could never understand the horror that black and brown people feel living, working, playing, loving just about anywhere in this world. Today in 2017. I promise you that the film will scare you. It’s good to be scared. Erin and I had also seen (not together) I Am Not Your Negro which is a wonderful film in James Baldwin’s words. The film attempted to show us that things haven’t changed. And while I can do a lot of head shaking and tsking while watching that film, I could not be transported the way I could be in Get Out. 12 Years A Slave was also a lovely movie, but everyone can respond to that film by saying, “This is a part of our horrific past. I acknowledge it. It was really bad. But I will never be a slave or enslave other people. I’m glad we don’t do this kind of thing anymore. God Bless the Ancestors. When this film is finished, I will shake off my discomfort and go get some ice cream.” Not true for Get Out. You see your friends and family in every character. Your bosses, colleagues, neighbors. You know all of these people. You are these people. As I watched the movie, I was transported to my own experiences and remembered those feelings of discomfort. From constantly being asked for help at every store (including today!), to sitting in the passenger seat of my black man’s ride while being pulled over for a dirty license plate (it had been snowing gotdammit). I live a life of not being seen and being scared all the same. Well, not today. Not today. And hats off to E for claiming her passion to lift people out of the sunken place, effectively blowing up every sunken place … and making sure that white people see their privilege for what it is. E is doing the Lord’s work cuz only a good strong benevolent human being could do it. I am planning a second viewing. Thank you, E, for all of your irreverent loud clapping, screams of yes!, and cackles during the parts of the film that were meant to be disquieting and violent. Gave me all types of happy.
- The National Hotel heated pool is heated. Thank goodness. I don’t know how many times I call a hotel to inquire about their pool, and they tell me incorrectly that it is heated. Then I show up, and the pool is brick cold. I’m sorry to be bougie (not really), but I need a heated pool. And I thoroughly appreciated National Hotel’s honesty. E and I lounged in that pool for hours. I had to eventually get out for my 5pm nap.
- Pura Vida has the best fresh juices. So delicious and frothy. It made me feel that I could eat more Yardbird.
- Versailles Bakery in Little Havana brought a smile to my face. It reminded me of all the latin bakeries in Jackson Heights. Dulce leche for days. People take a number and calmly wait to select their delights. I could tell that people knew each other. It was a warm place. Versailles is a Spanish-speaking establishment, which I really appreciate now that I live in a monocultural community. Gone are the days when I hear multiple languages and smell a variety of spices. E offered to stand on the dinner line while I bought a few treats. Now I’m sure that she has done all types of nice things for me, but in that moment, I really loved her.
- The blue jellyfish on the shores of South Beach look like translucent plastic bags. So fascinating!! Pat asked why we had stopped to video it but failed to save it. Ummm, cuz I wanted to remember this thing that I’ve never seen before, but I was not going to put it back in the water to harm me or anyone else … ummmm.
- Talking. We talked a lot. Thank you E for the safe spaces we share.
Let’s say a prayer. Thank you Jesus for all that you’ve given me and all that I’m set to enjoy in this year ahead. It’s not been an easy ride, but it’s been a good one. And it belongs to me. Amen.
The sounds of Versailles.