On the southeastern tip of Florida waits my love, South Beach, Miami. The big, welcoming, and sunny neighborhood in the 305: She’s patiently waiting for me with gleaming wide eyes and open arms, as I anxiously wait for departure on December 4th. I can’t put my finger on exactly what one thing always keeps me coming back for more, because there’s more than one thing. There are countless.
It might be the beach. How could it not be the beach? For an area that’s as popular as it is, South Beach boasts beautifully clear and warm waters. Palm trees are scattered throughout like sprinkles on an ice cream cone you never want to finish eating. A downside: The beach is always quite crowded. That’s not to say I particularly enjoy packed shores, but I do recognize it’s a compromise I have to make for the neighborhood I love.
It might be the food. Cuban food galore. If it sounds like heaven, it’s because it is. Just thinking about the mouth savory sandwiches and heaps of rice and beans drives me into a frenzy. Oh, and the batidos – delicious fruit shakes that are gulped down as fast as cocktails like mojitos and Cuba Libres. Heaven, I say.
It might be the architecture. Art Deco hotels and businesses line up Ocean Drive, and it’s truly quite an impressive view. The buildings are simultaneously white and colorful – a far stretch from what makes up the grey Gotham skyline. Many of them boast neon lights constantly flashing on their exteriors, reminiscent of an engagement ring that’s polished every day for ten years, with still no wedding date in sight. They’re alluring and tragic all at once, and I admire them because of it.
It might be the vibes. I would describe them as fun, light, and even Barbie-like. South Beach has a way of always bringing me out of the dumps; it constantly lifts my spirits in a way that no other place has been able to thus far, though that might speak to the fact that I should travel more often. (Everyone should travel more often.)
But don’t get the wrong idea; South Beach also has a dark side, a more sullen face to it. It may sporadically appear, but it’s always there – perhaps hidden beneath the sands or above the clouds. And don’t worry, you’ll know once it’s shown itself. It’s simply impossible to miss the overwhelming sense of grim on an otherwise bright tourist hotspot: The drunken night crawlers, the temptation, the high prices, the inordinate gentrification, the sense of not being good enough, and the idea that the place you love could never possibly be your permanent home. It’s a slap across the face that wakes you up and shudders, “It’s time to go home.”
Till December 4th.