Tuesday, September 4, 2007

The Twilight of My Twenties

In celebration of both Labor Day and my 28th Birthday, I returned to the place of my origin, Miami, Florida and spent some good quality time with family. The last birthday I celebrated in Miami was back in 1992. It was my 13th birthday and the party came to a decrescendo when everyone was forced to evacuate in order to prepare for Andrew, a category 5 hurricane that ripped through Miami with reckless abandon. Following Andrew’s example, I practiced the same spirit of reckless abandon throughout my teens…the details of which shall never grace the screen of my blog. Quite a beginning to my adolescence…there is a wealth of metaphors there just waiting to be harvested, but I will spare you my mellow-drama.

When considering how best to spend the evening of my 28th birthday I chose to politely bypass my father’s kind invitation to join him at his former law firm’s reunion and instead celebrated another year of life with my future step sisters, Ana (yeah, we have the same name) and Betty, up in Hollywood, Florida. I say “future step sisters” because the three of us are still ironing out the wedding details. As an only child it was such a treat to receive a kind of sisterly affection on my birthday. Ana and Betty are fast on their way to becoming regulars at a bar by the name of Murphy’s Law and they were quick to warn me of an elderly gentleman who is known for dancing with pelvic vengeance. Indeed, we spotted him early in the evening pounding back a bottle of Ensure in preparation for his evening of incessant gyrations. Ana, Betty and I also danced late into the night (minus the incessant gyrations) and did not return until somewhere around 4am….this was actually a first for me.

The following day my father and I made our way for Key Largo where I arranged for us to take a 3 hour guided tour of the mangrove islands by way of sea kayak. I'm usually not so crazy about guided tours, but I was eager to learn more about the ecology of the southern most part of the Everglades. My father and I, along with our guide, Cynthia, climbed into our sea kayaks and set off for our grand voyage around the mangroves. The water was clear, the mangroves were a tightly woven web of branches and roots and the Atlantic Ocean lay ahead beckoning us towards the horizon. Unfortunately, our tour was only scheduled for three hours which would not afford us enough time to make it to the horizon, so instead we stayed fairly close to shore. Although it was early afternoon, not a great time for “ocean safari”, I was able to catch a glimpse of a nurse shark, a few barracuda, along with some more sedentary species such as the elusive sponge. It was then that I realized how much I miss college as I launched questions in rapid fire at our poor, unsuspecting guide who did her very best to answer my queries on the ecology of the Everglades. Fortunately for her, my father (who has been known to be equally as inquisitive) was a bit winded from the paddling and was not able to join in my endless barrage of questions.

Sunday was to be my last day in Miami. Late in the morning I rode out to my grandmother’s apartment on Key Biscayne for a visit. It was difficult to see how much she has changed even since last Christmas…she has grown weak and tired under the weight of so many years.

Later in the afternoon my father and I arrived at Rosa’s home (his lady friend) where we celebrated the birthdays of Ana and Betty (yes, they’re twins and yes our birthdays are surprisingly close). Unfortunately I was not able to dance the night away with them as I had a plane to catch. Hopefully next year I will be able to show them the same kind of birthday enthusiasm as they did for me.

Back in D.C. I was welcomed by my loving housemates Christian and Alejo. In retrospect I realize how distant I have become from the place of my birth. Every corner of Miami seems to hold a memory from my childhood and yet it no longer feels like home.

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