I’ve been scoping out blogs for a year now, and I’ve seen the “be a tourist in your own city” post far too many times… and yet, I may just be writing that post. Please don’t judge me.
I don’t feel like I’ve ever lived in the “touristy destination” most people regard as Miami. Yes, this city has made appearances as the backdrop for shows like Dexter (most of which only references the city and then films in a generic tropical destination-- not to mention the Hispanic casting is always off), but Miami is this thing most people don’t know how to categorize. There are those who call it little Cuba (or South America in the recent past), those that call it the land of the vain and superficial, others who think we wear flip flops and boat all day, the recent positioning as an arts and cultural destination (my personal favorite). It’s all there, the angles people have been trying to frame Miami in.
For most locals, we’ve always just kind of lived here. I go to the grocery store, I don’t pop bottles and I like to relax and have BBQs. Nothing too out of the ordinary, except that I can do it in shorts all year round. I honestly forget we live in the cultural odyssey known as “Miami”. Most days I’m just a hustling freelancer and I don’t even take advantage of writing about a city millions want to know about. Seriously, it just slips my mind. I’m only reminded when we have friends and family visit that we do, in fact, live in a tourist destination.
This weekend we happily showed Jaime’s aunt and her two friends, who were visiting from Spain, Coconut Grove and Wynwood. The latter of the two really impressed them (mainly because they couldn’t believe an entire movement sprung up in the recent past). Things move extremely fast in Miami, as a local that’s white noise to me, but for the rest of the world developing an art and cultural scene where there was literally nothing in less than 10 years is actually bat sh*! crazy.
I was reminded a day in Wynwood is pretty sweet. It may be a our claim to "art scene" fame, but I still forget its presence. Tourists love to take photos in front of the decorated murals, and we went ahead and allowed ourselves to experience it as our visitors did. I usually walk right through barely glancing at the walls, and I suddenly felt like a bad girlfriend taking my relationship for granted.
Flashes of internet research danced in my mind... I suddenly recalled those "be a tourist in your own city" posts. The articles I'd roll my eyes at. I'd seen this idea done a million times on all those "100 blog post idea" prompts. Do you live in a popular destination? I never even twitched when I read it. I wondered...if I'd let myself indulge in the Miami-ness, how much more spectacular would life feel?
Where else can one grab a mojito wearing shorts in November, then walk around graffiti murals and light poles wrapped with owls made of car tires? Maybe LA, but it wouldn’t be the same. Miami has its own hustle and I respect that. It's no longer trying to be New York or LA. Finally, people who visit ask themselves, how do we create this back home? It is no longer reaching to be taken seriously. Sure, we'll always have our Miami-isms. The naysayers who reside in older metropolis areas won't be able to help themselves as they thumb their proverbial noses and call us the "whiny millennial" of cities. However, they can’t deny that walking through Wynwood feels evolved. There’s nothing gimmicky about it. It’s not trying to imitate Brooklyn, despite the comparison. It’s not LA sans Hollywood.
Miami isn’t “getting there” any more. It’s here, ladies and gentlemen.