Hello Miami!

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Miami: What a familiar world! Two days in, and I’ve already seen so much of L.A. on the streets and its people here that it feels like I’ve been a part of the town for much longer than forty-eight hours! I got into Miami on Sunday morning, and soon went shopping for some platanos fritos. At the store, I totally felt like a local as I made the line amid the commotion of early Sunday afternoon grocery hunting. They still do free bags in Miami, which came in handy when I put my stuff on the conveyor belt and realized that I forgot to bring my grocery bag! But seriously, who remembers that stuff anyway, right?!

On getting into my place for the day (a nice little spot in Little Havana), I threw some oil in the pan, cut up my platanos (which were much softer than the ones out West), and also diced up some strawberries and apples. I threw it all in the grill for a few minutes, and felt pretty darn good when I sprinkled the cooked warmth of the fruits onto my plate. I was taking care of myself, trusting that mama would be pleased if she saw me!

The softness of the fruits just nourished my stomach after nearly four days on nothing but sandwiches on the road, and when it all settled in, I figured I was done, resolving to collapse onto bed to catch up on some sleep. Of course, I couldn’t stay down for long. Though I was tired, there was a whole new city on the other side of the door to see! So I mustered up some spirit, threw on my camera, and zig-zagged it through the door for some more exploring: I was home.

Not long after my little photo run, it was time for the VONA orientation, and that’s when I knew I was in the right place. Everyone introduced themselves, and the crowd was filled with beautiful people from places as far as Brooklyn, New York, and even Canada and India! Needless to say, it was a pleasant surprise, and I got out my cards. Yours truly was ready.

With more soon,

At Last

And it’s one of those nights where the journey is long and your stomach is just begging and pleading for some action, when from out of nowhere your bus driver announces it’s time for a meal break.

You step off the bus and see the gas station, and it’s the greatest landmark you’ve ever laid eyes on; a gift from generations of hungry souls before yours.

You walk in, pour yourself a cup of coffee, and find immediate comfort in the warmth of the brew as it fills the small cup palmed by your hand. After topping if off with some creamer, you take a sip, cherish it, and look around for a treat to complete your late night snack family. The options are endless, as cookies, croissants, and sandwiches make up just a few of the possibilities for delight.

Your appetite longs to meet all of them, but tonight, there can only be one. Finally, you go with a coffee cake and a pair of bananas for good measure and nutrition.

Walking up to the register, you realize that the woman behind the counter is an angel, who happily greets you as you slide your debit card to officially make the meal yours. You thank her, and even wish her a good night as you head outside to perform your ritual.

Outside, you eat mechanically, as bit by bit coffee and cake caress your hunger into submission. A moment later, the bananas finish the job, at last quelling the chance of hearing any more from your belly for the evening.

You can only feel love in this moment: love for your bus driver, love for the gas station, and love for your country.

Somewhere, a part of you wants to join the air force just so you can show how much love you feel. But before you can finish that thought, your bus driver announces that it’s time to get back on the road. You immediately follow his instructions, nearly marching to the bus in a show of honor, knowing it is the only thing you can do to acknowledge the incredible value of his existence to your life at this juncture.

Aboard the bus, you take your seat, lean your head back, and fall into place for the last stretch of your journey. You’ve made it, and now nothing can stop you from reaching your promise-land. From the bus driver to the last bite of your banana, it is all on your side.

 

New Orleans is Enormous

Today’s been a blur, though truly in the best of ways. Rolling through Baton Rouge was a gift, and seeing New Orleans was exciting! I had no idea that the city was so big, but it looked staggering! On stepping out of the bus to face downtown, I quickly realized I wouldn’t be able to see even a few square blocks of the area despite my one hour layover. Unlike San Antonio’s central area, New Orleans’ downtown wasn’t just another easy walk for yours truly.

Rather, ‘the big easy’ was actually large, sophisticated, and ultimately weird in the way that great cities have to be to claim their unique character and culture. In turn, I looked at my schedule and decided to wait for my next bus at the station.

For what it’s worth though, I did have the pleasure of meeting and chatting with a New Orleans native on the bus! The kind woman was just visiting from Houston for the weekend, but she was nice enough to hand me her card and offer to show me around another time!

With J.T. as my witness, I’ll have to take her up on that offer later–no–soon!

I can hear her in friendly agreement now: Mm-hmm!

It’s fascinating, but people in the South really do talk like Forest Gump, with that infamous but also endearing southern drawl. For a moment, it makes me wonder if I occupy the same country that they do.

On the one hand, it seems like the west coast is about the future, or all about building a world that succeeds in new, innovative ways from the past. By contrast, the south feels like a place founded on a deep sense of history, or like one of those worlds that’s determinedly committed to an older way of life until the wheels fall off. Both ways are so important, and yet I wonder how long it’ll take; before we come to terms with our differences. Although, maybe that’s sort of what I’m doing now by being neighborly. And it’s all good! There’s plenty of room for all of us.

No matter how differently we might pronounce our words, one thing is clear: we truly are all beneficiaries of the lengthy, if lengthily complicated lands of the U.S.A. It’s been such a pleasure seeing more of the country in its entirety, and I can’t wait to find out more. At long last, Miami is finally on the horizon in the morning! Haha! </:D