Theo asked me where I would love to live. I’ve visited a number of beautiful places. London stands out, New England is gorgeous, and, given a bazillion dollars, New York City would be hard to pass up. Ultimately, however, I always say, Miami.
There are things about Miami that I don’t like. It’s expensive, congested, dirty, loud, and violent. The people are rude, superficial, have big egos and an even bigger sense of entitlement. Despite boasting a number of museums and galleries, what passes for art is pitiful, sports fan are disloyal, and, while it has a lot of events that sound good on paper, there is a general lack of high culture. Miami tends to rank in all the nationwide lists on the worst traffic, the worst dressed people, the worst housing markets, and the worst schools. Despite the flashy, silicone-manufactured facade, Miami is a working-class city full of immigrants struggling to get by, their American-born children with overdrawn bank accounts, and corrupt politicians trying to think up the next way to dupe us all.
By now you might be asking yourself why I like Miami. It is a city of contradictions. I love the diversity, which is the root of all that brings the best and worst to Miami. People from all over the world bring great music and even better food along with different communication styles, work ethics, driving habits, and survivalist modes, which can all lead to trouble. They also bring diverse religious beliefs and practices, which are widely respected. That’s not to say that religious persecution doesn’t happen, but for the most part, you can safely be open about your beliefs; I am. There is a large GLBT community despite the politically conservative atmosphere and a number of strong and admired women in the public sphere despite the pervasive Latin machismo.
Above all, I love Miami because it is my city and it keeps me connected to my ancestral heritage. It has a large Cuban community and I live in the middle of it in Little Havana. Every morning, I drink Cuban coffee and chat with my parents in Spanish as the latest news and commentary about Cuba comes in over the radio. My mother might walk down to the bakery and bring back guava pastries and a warm, aromatic loaf of fresh Cuban bread. In the evening, I can opt for a delicious dinner of roast pork, black beans and rice, sweet plantains, and flan for dessert. Old men play dominoes at the park, ladies dress in white to support their revolutionary sisters, and black men drum the songs that call the orishas. There are many good things to be found here.
I’ve read that Melbourne is an international cultural center. Theo has confirmed this and often tells me, “You’re going to love Melbourne, honey.” He says it’s very diverse with large numbers of Greeks, Italians, Asians, and Africans. But what about Hispanics? Apparently, there is a Cuban population in Oz. Where exactly? I’m not sure, but I’ll find them and their food.