Growing up in Miami and now living in LA has split my life into two worlds.
Every time I leave LA for Miami (for the holidays, a surprise trip, whatever), I feel this sense of anxiety – my daily walks, trips to Coffee Bean (of which there is only one in Miami, far away from our house), and little routine(s) in exploring my adopted home will be inevitably interrupted. I’ll be leaving my beloved bungalow in Culver City, and my apartment is and has been my oasis ever since moving here.
I have to contrast this with the anxiety I feel arriving in Miami. Although I will always consider myself a “Miami girl”, I can’t say that I ever felt like Miami was completely me. I love the music, the crazy weather (yes, I love and miss wild storms), the food (Cuban, Argentinian, Colombian) and (most importantly) being in close proximity to my mom, Macy and Pepe (the dogs), and my best friends who are still local. Yet the minute I get off the plane or very shortly after I’m usually confronted by a lot of the things that drive me most insane about Miami (rudeness, aggressiveness and humidity taking the top spots).
There are parts of both worlds that look so much like each other – certain neighborhoods, in fact, could be plucked out of the 310 area code and dropped in the 305. I am often reminded of Miami while in LA, and that’s always been a source of comfort. But I still feel like one of those old, super-stretchy rubber dolls. My two worlds both tug at me, daily.
I can’t detail every single thing I love about both homes and miss when I’m not in one (or the other), but these lists are my best attempt at sharing the loved and not-so-loved about both:
My BFFs (and a particular #littlebff now)
Macy and Pepe (Pepper!)
Cuban food – especially café con leche, Cuban bread and black beans and rice
The ease of getting around (traffic is god-awful in Kendall most of the time… but highways are a lot easier to navigate, especially at night)
Relative cleanliness (though I think this has diminished somewhat over time)
(more recently) the arts scene
Warm ocean water
Thunder, lightning and relentless rains
Seeing FIU from the turnpike and grinning like an idiot
Clean tap water (seriously, Miami water is GOOD)
Air kissing (people are still alarmed when I do this in LA)
Flying in from the west and gliding over the Everglades
My apartment (gazing out my balcony door), Culver City
My LA BFFs
Independently owned everything – especially coffee shops
Reverence for the unique
Crazy neighbor stories and LA happenings
Beautiful men of every walk of life (see companion list)
Walking, everything and every place pedestrian-friendly
Funky fashion sense(s) and the multitude of styles everywhere
The Hollywood sign
Indian food (Miami lacks access to this critical fare)
Street art, everywhere
Thrift stores (REALLY good ones)
Flying in from the east and floating over mountains as well as LA’s expansiveness
Rude, aggressive behavior (…it’s pretty rampant)
Sameness, i.e. big, box stores and chains
Generic music on every radio channel
Flakiness; the struggle is real in meeting new people (in the friend world and beyond)
Air quality (poor… living in West LA is probably the only reason I haven’t fully developed black lung or emphysema)
State Income Tax (I can’t look at my pay statement without wanting to throw things)
Strange characters that I’ve encountered, however fleeting
Beautiful men of every walk of life
Leaving Miami was a lot harder in the beginning. I sobbed quietly every time I said goodbye to my mom at the airport curb (many skycaps can attest to this). If “living” can be split into percentages, I felt about 70% Miami, 30% LA for the first year I was living in LA. That gradually shifted. In year two, it felt like I was 60% in LA and 40% Miami. And now, more than three years later, I feel so attached to LA (for all the loves above) that being here is definitely where at least 80% of “me” is. Maybe more. In LA, I feel like my wings have had space to unfold, that my feathers and all their colors* are all on full display. Living in the same place for my entire life, I knew my wings were there but never felt they had the space to fully catch the wind.
My close Miami friends ask me (constantly) when and if I’ll come back. My best guy friend is convinced I’ll be living in Midtown or Wynwood any day now. My best girlfriend jokes that I’ve just been at a “very long conference”. They want me back; it kills me to know that I can’t be as close to them (or my mom) by proximity, but I’ve been honest with them in sharing that I don’t think Miami is in the stars. At least not in the immediate future. They also know that my love for LA grows every day that I’m here and that my wings grow stronger with every new accomplishment or adventure.
The fact is I love both worlds, but I couldn’t continue to limit myself by the duty I felt for so long to Miami. I released myself from home. I know now that my duty, to myself, is to soar.
* Colors = alludes to a soon-to-be finished blog about the colors of my world.