“Are You Fucking Kidding Me?” A Place is What You Make It

A place is what you make it. And, I think, people can be who you make them.

I’ve been in Miami for just over two and a half weeks now. While my lessons in places, spaces and people have certainly been learned over time, there is nothing as jarring and potent to mix up your ideas of the world as moving. Moving, marriage, changing jobs and one more that I can never remember are among the most stressful life events, and I seem to have covered two in about a month and a half. Needless to say, I’ve had my highs and lows.

So much of my day is filled with dialogue. That hasn’t changed too much since the move, of course, as so much of my job experience and days were filled with dialogue. Now, though, instead of talking with colleagues or crafting specific messages, my dialogue is with Jeff, with my family at the Ceramic League and with friends, far and near.

I still craft specific messages, but now with a slightly different motivating factor. Creative expression and an outlet fuel my writing. I’ve realized writing and body movement, now through yoga, are my lifeforce, what keeps me alive and ticking. In two and a half weeks I’ve filled likely 20 unsaved, unpublished drafts and smattering of words, savoring the passion and fury to write that took me over, waiting to unfurl a poignant post on my little blog.

One of my recent lows came on Tuesday. Through whatever sequence of mental and emotional hurdles my monkey mind had inflicted on my spirit, I found myself absolutely needing to get on my bike, get away from the warehouse and be alone. I ate dinner at the local Whole Foods, where sadly you are barred from consuming beer or wine on the premises, and pedaled home in the dark, my flashing light dimly illuminating the busway bike path, the constant breeze hitting my face. As I turned onto our now-quiet street, I looked up at the sky that held a few stars and a dozen flashing airplanes. I rolled to the warehouse, opened the garage door and sat in one of the little chairs and cried. The feeling of lonliness even when surrounded by people is not strange to me. I cried and felt like a stranger, in a strange place, surrounded by strange new people.

After his class, Jeff came over and found me sitting quietly. We talked late into the night and drank a Peroni. He has a way of listening to my woes with empathy and compassion, even when my complaints and tears flow like a tap at a keg party. I woke up the next day feeling refreshed and excited: I had a yoga connection coming up and a sunny weekend ahead, among other things. The sorrows of the previous night felt light years away, my self-confidence renewed.

One characteristic I mentioned to Jeff that I thought I noticed about Miamians was a more blunt, Northeastern-style unfriendliness that I sense in a super densely populated urban setting. I say sense when I should really say “project.” Jeff and I joked about it all week… as time after time after time, I met the nicest individuals who showed such warmth and kindness to me. The woman at the Post Office who let us use a pen, and let us peek at her cards, which she was mailing to the Netherlands; the owner at the Luna Star, who personally greeted me; the man at the beach who exclaimed how nice Haulover is; the friendly cashier, the helpful server, the energetic duo studio/gym owners who want to help me build my teaching career. All this on top of a second family, a group of people at the League who make an effort nearly every day to help me feel welcome, at home, comfortable and loved.

Sure, there’s the lady in her Benz who cursed at me when I backed out of a parking space at the most designer-filled mall I’d ever been to, or the guy who roared at us out of his window, Jeff and I slowly rumbling to a halt in the diesel. “Are you fucking kidding me?” he yelled as he looked at us and our bald white heads and whipped his sports car around the corner. But those occurrences seem to be a drop in the pan compared with the overwhelming openness and acceptance I feel here.

I think you can find that anywhere, though, whether in up-and-coming Southern towns tucked in the foothills of Appalachia, big Northeastern cities, rural communities, hipster capitals, bustling city centers in Argentina or here in sprawling, sunny Miami. A place is what you make it, what you project, and people are what you make them. People and places and spaces are merely a reflection of what shines from your own heart and spirit.

Barely a day goes by when Jeff and I don’t look at each other, eyes and bodies smiling at the richness we’ve found in each other, in this space, in this community and in each minute, and mock the angry driver. “Are you fucking kidding me?” we laugh, with child-like wonder at the question. Another day, another laugh, another reflection.

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4 thoughts on ““Are You Fucking Kidding Me?” A Place is What You Make It

  1. As a Miamian transplanted to Chattanooga, I have to laugh. I found the same challenges trying to fit myself in to this community. Thankfully there are yogis everywhere!

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