This past May I took a trip to a city whose reputation is one that brings many images to mind: Rick Ross and many rap videos, multiple mediocre cop shows, scantily clad people, and so much more.
That’s right folks. I went to Miami.
Going to Florida was certainly not my first rodeo. I am among the ranks of many who have gone to Florida for its wonderful theme parks, having visited Disney World and my favorite, Universal. But I knew this trip to Miami would be different. For this was a city in which my desire to go had not been the highest and it was never a city I thought much about.
I long perceived Miami as what I call a status city. Other names I might call it would be a fantasy city or feel-rich-city. For me, these terms refer to a city many go to to feel rich, luxurious and to escape and feel rewarded (and feel like they are in a rap video).
Now obviously I am generalizing, speaking about a specific part of Miami. As I suspected, this was the part of Miami I indeed was brought to on this trip sponsored by my dad, DJ Griff.
I had the experience of staying in the Fontainebleau, a famous Miami Beach hotel that has been the site of many celebrity stays, been used as a filming location for shows such as The Sopranos and is one of the most notable tourist locations not just in Florida but in the United States.
At the hotel, I had quite the view. With multiple pools outside and just a small walk from the beach, the view from my room’s window was definitely something. One could look out the window and see the ocean but also hear the music booming by the pools as many scantily clad people swam and partied outside.
As one walked through the pools the smell of chlorine, alcohol and cigars filled the air. As my time at the hotel went on, I felt like I was surrounded by people whose only desire while at this hotel was to have sex, party and do drugs. I pretty much witnessed two of those things happening with my own eyes.
The hotel certainly treated us to good food. But this hotel was not one I truly felt the hype over. Call me crazy but I am not a fan of having to pay for every snack and water bottle offered in the hotel room. While this is a common feature of fancy hotels at tourist locations, I certainly would not have been above staying at a more low key hotel where the coffee and tea was free. Having stayed at two hotels during my trips to New York and Fort Worth earlier this year, I know for sure great hotels can have free items in rooms.
This trip to Miami was an excellent display that showed that to travel does not mean instant happiness or perfect escape. As an introvert in a scene for extroverts, the pleasures of the Miami Beach scene were not mine to experience, with drugs being something I was in no hurry to do, partying being something I didn’t feel like meeting people to do and sex being something I could not take part in without cheating on my girlfriend. So these three pleasures of Miami were not mine. However, I think they were never meant to be mine to begin with, for the feelings of temptation did not even reach me.
Thankfully, I was able to eventually experience the much more interesting side of the city. On my last day in Miami I embarked on a tour throughout the city. I was able to see fascinating sites and learn about the culture and history of the city, seeing how much Cuban culture influenced the city. I got to have a taste of the Cuban dish that consisted of chicken and rice which was certainly delicious.
A city is many things and there are multiple sides to a city. Just as Houston is more than just the space city, Miami is a city with many sides to it. The side of Miami I spent most of my time in was the side for those coming for the celebratory life and pleasures of partying and drinking. Just like Houston has a reputation for its clubs and pleasures it offers, so does Miami. That part of Miami has built a reputation on that and so it was fascinating seeing so many people here as a result of that reputation. After all, man is a social animal and can especially be a party animal. While that certainly offered insights, I would have liked to experience more of what Miami offered in terms of its culture and history. As we know though, a vacation is defined by its limited time and its impact on you during those few days you are.
As I continue to reflect on this vacation, I think that my mixed emotions on the experience are a testament to my mixed feelings about traveling for the sake of travel and the wanderlust many people have. So often many associate travel with a way to get away from your day-to-day life. While traveling can indeed be a good escape for people and take their mind away from work, this is not a guaranteed remedy for a person’s well being. It certainly was good to experience a city I had never been to, but such experience served to show that not every city is for me. This was certainly not something I did not know already know, but this was my first travel destination in which I truly felt like my desire to return to this city (or the particular scene I was at) was not at all high.
Having stayed at a place that is one of the country’s most famous tourist locations for those chasing hedonism and pleasure, since I was not after those things it makes sense I have such thoughts. So, as I am very used to, Miami was yet another location for me to be an observer, watching others take part in the hedonism and pleasures offered at Miami Beach.