When I was 12 years old I spent an entire summer in Miami Florida. My dad lived there for work and since he and my mother were divorced when I was four I tended to spend my summers with my dad. Which was a break from the hell of my home life! My dad had a job where he travelled and just about every summer I spent with him was in a different and awesome place.
This was the first summer I can remember going to stay with him and maybe that is why it sticks with me, or maybe because it was one of the greatest summers I have ever had. I was raised in a small town in Arkansas that no one outside a hundred- mile radius from the town had ever heard of. So when I got my first glimpse of a huge city like Miami, WOW!
Before we got to the tiny apartment where my dad was staying, we went to WALT DISNEY WORLD, in ORLANDO, and that was an amazing day, that was the start of my amazing summer. I even got a kiss on the cheek from the head cheese herself MINNIE MOUSE ( see what I did there haha).
We finally get to the apartment and literally across the street from my dad’s front door was the amazing ATLANTIC OCEAN. I can still smell the salty sea air as I woke up in the mornings in this tropical paradise. On a clear day, you could even see the parts of the tiny islands that make up the BAHAMAS!
It was so incredible I don’t think I can even come up with the words to describe how awesome that summer was. My dad’s apartment was also located on the same strip in MIAMI, that the very popular show MIAMI VICE showed in the opening credits. Crazy, I know, but it is true.
I also made a trip to the EVERGLADES which was not too far off and I even got to see a guy wrestle a real live Alligator. The best part of that day was when we went on a boat in the water, the guides threw hunks of meat the size of my head to the gators and they would come right up to our feet on the huge fan boat we were on to catch the meat in their mighty jaws . Incredible even though I was a bit scared that they would mistake me for a meal.
That was the summer I ate not only the very best pizza I have ever had but the best Mexican food I have ever eaten in my life. The pizza place was this little hole in the wall pizza joint walking distance from my dad’s apartment. It was owned by an older real life SICILIAN. He had a PARROT in the doorway that insulted you on the way in and on the way out. I thought it was funny at the time, but now realize it may have been a health code violation, but DAMN that Pizza was good.
The Mexican restaurant was on the other end of MIAMI, the only way to get there was through a tunnel that actually ran underneath the ocean you could drive right through it, unbelievable. I probably would have enjoyed, it more if I wasn’t so scared the tunnel would collapse and drown us all where we sat in the car. The restaurant sat on a cliff overlooking the ocean with floor to ceiling windows, It was one hell of a view and even at twelve I appreciated every moment of it. These restaurants must have been great if they imprinted in my memory and still to this day I dream of them twenty-seven years late.
That is also the summer we drove to FT LAUDERDALE not too far north and went to the biggest drive-in I have ever seen. With at least twenty screens, it was awesome we went and saw BACK TO THE FUTURE PART II. I will never forget when I saw TO BE CONTINUED, on the big screen at the end of the movie, knowing right then, there would be a part III.
Of all the things, I saw that summer the best thing I took away from it was the sheer amount of diverse cultures there were right there in one city MIAMI. I even met and befriended a little GERMAN boy, we didn’t understand each other all the time, but it was one hell of an educational experience for me. There were so many different cultures either on vacation or there trying to start their own pizza empire or there for a new job it was amazing to see so many different people come together to dwell in harmony, even now it warms my heart to know we could all just get along no matter our background, maybe it’s the warm sunshine that keeps them happy all year.
Man it is amazing the things we remember in detail, either way it was one of the greatest learning experiences of my life, until the summer of CHICAGO, that is, but that is a story for another time.