"For six years, I've felt like the Cuban in Boston. But in my last two trips to Miami, I have felt like the Bostonian in Miami. How did this happen?" I told my friend Eric as we worked out at his Midtown Miami condo's gym.
It's a strange, almost disconcerting feeling now when I visit Miami and notice new buildings and businesses in place of others(Boston Market on Coral Way or Gilbert's Bakery gone from Douglas Road.) Or watching the northern march of Miami's skyscrapers as they blend in with the new condos dotting Biscayne Boulevard.
I cycle on Miami Beach - one of my favorite things to do when I visit - and notice my high school housed in a new building. Or how all the Eckerds drugstores are now CVS's. Little by little, I have become a tourist in my hometown and I don't like the feeling.
I've just returned from Miami for a few days of rest and Cuban-family time. For me, Miami isn't so much about the bars and beach. It's about family and my circle of close friends. What makes it so hard for me to leave and return to Boston with a heavy heart are the small everyday little things that I enjoy doing with these people when I visit. Driving my mom to Navarro pharmacy so she can stock up on her latest vitamin bottles and candelas. Going to the David Barton gym with my sister so we can sweat and catch up and then drive to Epicure to pick up some cake for our parents. Sitting at our dinner table to have lunch with Papi so we can talk about the state of the Red Sox and the new Nissan models. Driving to Dadeland Mall so I can sit with my Tio y Tia on those comfy lounge chairs that line the middle of the mall for tired shoppers (us!). There, we munch on crispy warm pastelitos and talk about my cousins and my parents. Working out with Eric and talking about our struggles, frustrations, and loves as gay Cuban writers. Driving to Vero to see Ryan so we can drive around, look at properties and engage in philosophical conversations about where we are going to be five years from now. Or having a simple but festive dinner with Tom and Carlos at Sunset Place to celebrate another one of our birthdays. These are the moments I carry with me with the care of fine china as I board the uncomfortable and bulky American Airlines plane back to Boston, my other home. The only time my Boston feels like my Miami is when one of the above people surprises me with a visit. After six years in Boston, perhaps I've finally realized, that no matter how much I try, that I can never make Beantown my Miami. And maybe it's true what they say: You can leave Miami but it never leaves you. Hence, my case of the Miami Blues. (note to reader: the Miami Blues usually lasts a week as I settle back into my Boston routine, as my friends will attest.)