After a couple of years of thinking about it, a few months planning it and a few weeks of working on it, it finally happened: I left Miami seemingly for good.

As I stood in front of the vacant house I had lived in for a little over 16 years, a lot crossed my mind. I stared at the exterior of the house but I felt heavy somehow, knowing that it was empty. How could I feel emotional about leaving this place after everything I went through, I wondered.

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I arrived in 1997 with my mom and a friend of mine. At that time, the house was being constructed so we stayed in an area called Doral temporarily. It was a nice gated community. Things were pretty easy for me for a while since my days consisted of carefully sneaking beer onto my mom’s grocery cart, working out at the community gym and hitting the pool or hot tub to end the day. This lasted for a while before I was told I had to get one of those “job” things people tend to get to complicate their lives.

During this time we would excitedly visit the area where the house would be. I remember when there was nothing more than cattle around the area and a concrete slab where the house would be. Eventually as the house starting taking shape, we would sneak in through the window to snoop around. Although we were currently staying in a very nice area, we were looking forward to moving into the house.

I remember that while living in the house, the area around it was being developed. I was always a little embarrassed when I gave people the most direct route to visit because people thought we lived in the middle of nowhere. The most direct route was past an area where there was nothing but cow pastures. That area has since been developed into a huge mall and other such money black holes, but back then it was just cows. Lots of them.

Miami saw me attend art schools for computer animation briefly and then switch to graphic design. (I was wild enough to exchange phone numbers for a more social interaction with the young counselor at the school during my first meeting – she seemed to forget she had a boyfriend). This art school was where I wound up meeting the girl whom I would eventually marry. She was a little on the prissy side having family who were fairly well off, however. I never did understand the intrigue people seem to have with the “bad boy” type – liking one OR being one.

It tends to be a bad idea to do it, but I spent the majority of my life in Miami partying like a madman and slaying as many people as possible. I didn’t know it then, but Miami would see me at my worst in probably every possible aspect. It turns out that all the crazy shit I did for years doesn’t lead you into happiness, which consequentially made everything else around me fall apart. Miami also saw me get a divorce and, strangely, the divorce briefly had me fall apart just like everything else. It’s interesting how one can lead life not worried about the consequences, but once you’re forced to pay your dues you have the nerve to be upset. Often you get back what you put into things and that was a lesson which took me years to fully wrap my head around.

Still, it was weird to not be with someone I had been with for over a decade. Don’t get me wrong; I didn’t, and do not, like having my partner be subservient and doing whatever I want. It bores me. I’m a fan of the witty banter, I believe in a relationship being a team, I have an appreciation for strong women. I just didn’t care about much. Looking back, the divorce was a good thing and the start of many things.

Life wasn’t done dispensing lessons like a vending machine, however. I eventually spent quite a bit of time with a friend of mine who eventually became my girlfriend. See, despite everything I had been through, Miami also saw me fall in love for the first time. Once again I displayed poor selection decision making skills so shortly after that, Miami also saw me get my heart really broken for the first time. It was only after that and a  ton of introspection that I started piecing my mind together. I started understanding myself, and others, for the first time.

I like to think that Miami also saw me go through redemption. I always saw myself as the bad guy and always played the part (beautifully I might add). It didn’t matter because I never cared about anyone else’s feelings or thoughts. Everything revolved around self gratification with no thought for consequence.

I’m happier now than I have been in ages. I struggled with depression, anger and anxiety successfully. I reached some stalagmite infested subterranean lows for some quite some time and yet, somehow managed to be better by the time it concluded. Still, I opened the door to the house and slowly paced around. “This was where I would cuddle up on the couch to watch a movie with the girl I fell in love with.” “This is where I used to eat dinner with my ex wife.” “This is where I stood when I heard my grandmother died.” “This is where one of the Mini Schnauzers shredded an entire box of brand new toilet paper to the point where you couldn’t see the carpet.” And on and on it went. A ton of thoughts bounced around my mind as I walked from room to room. There’s so much history in this place. See, I may have grown up in Panama, but I matured in Miami.

I relived a million scenarios, though not all pleasant. I wanted to go back and enjoy them one more time. For one reason or another, a lot of those people don’t exist in my life anymore. Life has a way of passing you by when you blink, and before you know it you’re far from where you started and so is everyone else.

As I wrapped up my inspection of the house and torturing myself with memories, I realized that I the house was empty but for one lonely painting. That was it. That was all that remained. 16 years of history hung on the wall inside a cheap metal frame. I knew that once I removed this from the wall and walked through the door that I would leave a huge part of my past and my life right there. Throughout the years this house became the place where I would hide from the world when things got to be too much. There was comfort in there despite so much sadness and confusion.

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I slowly walked out with the painting under my arm. I could almost see the tragically flawed version of myself standing there watching me leave. I know there are people I will never speak to again. People who were important. Some who were everything to me. Some I will see and/or speak with again, but who knows when?

In the end, it was finally clear that this saga was finally complete. The story from Panama to Miami had concluded and it had a happy ending (and we all know I’m a fan of happy endings). I left Miami with a better job offer than I’ve had before – with tons of potential more than I’ve had before. I left my history and personal life without any remaining guilt (I spent a lot of time trying to make amends – most of the time I was successful – and it seems they all led me to this moment) I found an apartment and committed to it, sight unseen, loaded up my car and headed to my new life and the new story.

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I don’t have a clue what work will be like, what the apartment will be like or anything else. I’m clueless about most of the things headed my way, but for the first time it doesn’t really bother me. It feels like it was the natural next step. That’s the strange part. I usually require so much control and pre-planning that I thought I would feel out of place, lonely or anxious. I don’t. I’m ready to start the next adventure. The next part of my life.

And with that, it was all over, and I was gone.

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Comments
  1. […] seems like it was just moments ago that I was writing about leaving the douche-fest called Miami. In the last days of February it will be a year that I have relocated to Maryland, but in my mind I […]

  2. Abid Khan says:

    Nicely written! I meant to stop reading after the first paragraph but I couldn’t put it down! Had me hooked. Good luck up there.

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