love letter to miami

Hi Miami,Andrew here. This is somewhat awkward. I know I critique you A LOT. There’s the article where I said you could go f*ck yourself… in the title. I also wrote that your bus system was composed of dilapidated mule carts, your drivers were suicidal maniacs, and no one in the city could survive 60 degree weather. I’ve made fun of Art Basel, Brickell, Lincoln Road, Fisher Island, Zoo Miami, the Marlinstwice—and, for good measure, the entirety of Miami-Dade County. I understand if you’re a bit peeved, but I only criticize because I truly love you. I want the Magic City to be better for everyone lucky enough to live within your boundaries. So, today I’ll do something different. Today, I’m writing you a love letter.

You were my first love. I didn’t have a say in the matter because I was born in Jackson Hospital, but it was rapture at first sight. That’s a lie. I was too young to appreciate your complexity and beauty. I wanted adventure. I wanted excitement. Most idiotically of all, I thought I wanted seasons. And so, in my 20s, I packed my bags and went galivanting about with other locales.

I spent two years with upstate New York, another two and a half with D.C., three and a half with Boston, and a year with North Carolina. Also, I had some flings with Buenos Aires, São Paulo, and New York City. Please don’t judge. They lacked your warmth, your manic tropical energy, your sabor. Most importantly, I never fit. The others were fun, but they were never home.

You implicitly understand my bilingual upbringing and cultural idiosyncrasies. Other cities looked askance at my enthusiastic gesticulation and multilingual expletive-laden interjections. I walked on eggshells, suppressing my exuberance, worried I’d be shushed by an omnipresent municipal librarian. But with you, I can be loud, expressive, and utterly myself.

Miami envelops me in an boisterous cacophony of global cultures where hearing six different languages on the same block is the norm. I grew up on reggae, reggaetón, samba, salsa, son, merengue, bachata, dancehall, compass, cumbia, and the insane, driving bass of old school Miami booty. The second I hear Uncle Al announce my mind’s impending explosion, you’d better clear a straight line between me and the nearest dancefloor, because I will go over or through you before the drums start.

And forget the bland, under-seasoned, soulless sustenance found up north. A global culinary celebration greets all willing to venture west from the tourist traps. Name a country in the Western Hemisphere. Name its most delicious dish. Then name the next 10 best. They’re all here.

Your natural wonders are incomparable. The Everglades, mangroves, corals, sea grass, and pine rocklands circle you like an emerald crown. And your sky! God, your sky! Cloud megalopoli wander slowly across an azure firmament, their ever-changing cumulonimbus cathedrals dwarfing the skyline below. But nothing compares to your golden hour, when the entire city pauses, just for a moment, in awe of a quotidian carnival of kaleidoscopic color, a museumful of Monets painted across a celestial-sized canvass.

Miamians often complain about the heat. Sure, stepping into 90-degree weather in shorts and a shirt is uncomfortable, but do the same in 0-degree weather and—I can’t stress this enough—YOU WILL DIE. I did not enjoy autumn in other cities, mostly because it foreshadowed Jack Frost’s frigid deathscape of sleet, black ice, and interminable darkness. Some, less enlightened, individuals erroneously believe snow to be a magical substance that floats gently from the sky to dust joyful little towns in cheer. It isn’t. Snow is simply cold water, rain’s dirtbag cousin. It melts, refreezes, makes everything miserable for everyone, and should only be viewed when safely confined within a Miami living room TV. Snowbird flock to the Magic City come December for a reason, and it’s not the north’s overwhelming flurry-based merriment.

This is all a roundabout way of saying that I appreciate you, Miami, that I absolutely adore you. You make me feel like I belong, like I don’t need explain myself to anyone, like I can simply be. You make me happy (when you don’t infuriate me). I simply ask that all Miamians be able to share in that same, wonderful feeling. Until then, I will keep making fun of you.

Yours truly,

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Andrew OtazoAndrew Otazo

'Miami Creation Myth' author Andrew Otazo has advised officials on Cuba policy, worked for the Mexican president, fired a tank, and ran with 30lbs of trash.

Check out the first free chapter of Andrew’s upcoming book here.


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