Friday, April 27, 2012

The famous Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables

In Miami, I began a new life.

another view of the Biltmore

I followed my true love to this crazy, outlaw place of beginnings and leavings, escapes, travesties, and renewals. This was a city baked by white, pink and orange suns; with a sky blue as outer space, where stars sweated at night. I saw my first band of pelicans here, flying low and flat over the ocean, wings dark as bats.  Dinosaurs in flight.

This was a place where houses reflected those bright colors of the sun.
And where I came face to face with trees whose trunks and roots stretched across grand boulevards, fields and fairways. Banyan trees like palaces overhead. I had to stop the car, stare and marvel at their sculpted magnificence.

My husband and I bought our first house here, a 1917 Old Spanish bungalow with signature barrel tile roof and
a hidden courtyard inside that opened up on three sides via French doors

This tree (below) was a 4-foot plant in our front yard when we sold our house and moved away in 1992.  It's about 14 feet tall  now.  Amazing. Life goes on with or without me.                                     
                              On this street, I met neighbors who are friends for life. During those few years we lived on Lisbon Street together, we spent every weekend (it seemed) lost in our house renovation projects. Impromptu dinners. Yard conventions. Home depot pow wows. Wine tasting parties. That's Barbara (r). She picked me up at the airport when I arrived. We hadn't seen each other for 21 years but it didn't matter. 
So many beginnings and firsts took place in Miami.  I got my first letter of acceptance from an editor at a literary magazine (Chariton Review) soon after I'd moved there. I became a newlywed in Miami.  And, I gave my first short story reading at a "real" bookstore, one called Books and Books in Coral Gables.  Books and Books was Miami's cultural depot for literary arts. A guy named Mitchell Kaplan ran it.  He seemed to live in that store, graciously manning the register every day and night, building a collection of beautiful books. In these 20 years I've been away, Mitchell has expanded his original Coral Gables store to five stores including one in the Cayman Islands. It meant a lot to return to Books and Books to read from my debut novel.

TheCoral Gables store
Long ago, Mitch promised to put my published novel in his store window. A billion years later, here it is.
The multi-talented Luna Jade and Keith Cronin who came to my reading. For a full view of my reading, click on this link to Luna Jade's photos of the events, and then check out Luna's music. She has a gorgeous voice.
That's Barb and Vinny

I stayed with my dear, old friends, Daniella and Rob, one of the first people we met when we moved to Miami. 

Daniella and Rob, mighty-hearted souls. 

Daniella and Rob's backyard
another view of their backyard

Clearly, I could go on and on, but I'll end for now with these pictures of Miami beach, and this question for you: Do you have a place you stayed away from for a variety of reasons, maybe even avoided, and finally returned to? (Were you glad you did? How did it feel?)