Back On The Road (PT.2)

I wrote all day Sunday. It just flowed out of me. I was like a woman possessed. Carlos had gone home for the week, and given me the keys to his dorm room. I sat basking in the chilly air conditioning of his tiled, efficient room, feeling like an impostor student and shut-in, but mostly reveling in the freedom of typing away. The writers block that had caged me for the last several months seemed to have blown away like a bad storm and been replaced by endless rays of light. Thank you unemployment, random adventure, and hours of mindless driving. Success!

In the evening I had planned to meet up with Carlos at his parent's place in downtown Miami. Around 8pm, he called me with the simple enigmatic message to come on down, leave my car with the valet, prepare for a nice dinner at 10pm, and not worry about money. Confused and amused, I met him at his parent's posh new condo, past modern art and fountains, halfway up to the 16th floor. There among the cities' high-rise lights by the water, my curiosity was sated. It seems his godfather owned a fancy restaurant, and had given him and his choice of guests a full-course meal on the house as a birthday present. So after quick introductions to his mother, Carlos, I and two of his best friends set off for a short walk to the restaurant.

I was chatting freely and getting acquainted with his friends, when a lady began closely following behind us. She said not to mind her, and that she just simply wasn't comfortable walking by herself after dark. I somewhat awkwardly invited her to join us, and she began to haphazardly explain further. Something about how she owned a bar near where we were headed, but didn't got out late much, and appreciated our company enough to give us free shots, if we'd just come with her. I think we might have all thought she was a little crazy, but in good and accommodating spirits we nervously laughed and agreed until we reached a nice bar with brilliantly curated art, and were told to order our choice of shots on the house. Ah how we felt like fortuitous kings! We down a round of birthday cake shots, expressed our thanks, and rolled on out to meet our 10pm reservation around the corner in the highest of spirits.

The restaurant was in a beautifully restored firehouse complete with pole, candle lit white table clothes, and a terraced second-floor balcony with cabanas and tropical plants. The bartender and waitstaff all seemed to know Carlos, and spoke in rapid flowing Spanish with him. He ordered a bottle of wine, we picked out appetizers, entrees, and tiramisu with birthday candles was brought out for desert. The whole nine yards, delicious and for free. We were all amazed, tipped accordingly, and in a daze planned further exploits for the night.

After much debate, we ended up sneaking into the men's jacuzzi in Carlos' parent's apartment building with a couple cups of red wine. All a little drunk, it only took a few rounds of friendly jabbing for Carlos to discretely loose his swim trunks, and the rest of us to follow. Rounds of embarrassing stories were told, truth games played, and blushes displayed. Somehow I don't think these latin boys were used to such liberal forwardness, and were nervously obtuse. At some slight sounds of other drunken revelers on the deck, under garments were hastily reapplied. Within ten minutes a security guard walked in upon our illicit activities. He was probably just lazy or apathetic, but after one look and one question he let us stay. I'd like to think he was simply so impressed by the situation he had to respect it. Thing wound down around 1am, goodbyes were said, and I headed back to my borrowed dorm room.

The next day I took advantage of free internet access to take care of some business while I waited for Carlos to get free. We had planned to go to South Beach. By 4pm, the weather had cooled, and I was anxious with waiting, so I set off on my own. I walked down the shore for miles, slowly, deliberately, barefoot, feet in the water, watching all the vacationers. I heard lots of English and Spanish spoken of course, but also French, German, Korean, and even more I couldn't identify. People from places all over the world coming together at this one destination, because it all commonly appealed to them. No matter language or ethnicity, all children in between the ages of three and twelve seem to have an innate desire to build sandcastles. How humanly fantastic! At the end of the beach where it was less crowed, I stripped down to my swimsuit, and dove into the waves. It was overcast, and the setting sun starkly highlighted the rough edges of clouds as a steady wind blew late evening storms inland to the city. Still the water, ah the water stayed that limpid azure of Florida postcards. I floated on my back and laughed alone.

When it got dark, I walked back along main drags where restaurants and shops annex the sidewalk, under massive umbrellas, cramped tables on either side, with the mulling smells of decadent seafood meals and ladies perfume and neon tropical drinks. Pretty young hostesses and suavely mediocre spanish guitar players at each spot trying to lure in customers from the distracted crowd. The din of clattering plates, the whirling fans, the mash up of mood lighting, slow moving warm bodies pressing close, my senses were completely overwhelmed. I was a stranger here, clothes damp, skin sticky from salt water, by myself, and tight on money. Instead, I crossed to the other side of town, the quiet side, and went to a small taco stand, a local friend had taken me to when I visited last year. I ate with gusto, and feeling quite sated, decided to go to bed early for once.