Before I moved here in August I had never been to Miami before. The only times I have been to Florida were to visit Disney World. When we moved back from Israel in April we stayed with family in New Jersey and I quickly discovered that when I told someone in the New York area that I was moving to Miami they got really excited. Especially the woman who worked at Sephora in the mall. “MIAMI!? You’re SOO lucky! I just got back from vacation there!” Instead of being reassuring, her reaction made me worry a little. Let’s be honest, I was in Sephora buying face soap and I didn’t have much in common with the makeup artist. She was nice, and so are many of the people who live here. However, I just don’t have much in common with many of them, and I feel a bit out of step with the general culture and atmosphere of the place. As soon as I drove into our neighborhood and saw the manicured greenery and buff joggers on the path around the golf course across the street, I knew I was in for an interesting experience of coming face to face with my fears of not fitting in. Let me back up a little and tell you that since my daughter Ella was born I have been having quite an existential crisis. (If you’ve read my earlier posts this probably goes without saying.) The surety and comfort of my beliefs, feelings and world view have been thrown out the window and I’m building from the ground up. I feel like someone took my lid off, shook everything out, and now I’m picking through all the nonsense to find what actually works for me and putting it back. Does that sound painful and confusing? It is! It is also incredibly exhilarating when I get the chance to take a deep breath and see a little progress in certain areas. More on this later, for now, back to Miami.
We live in a very unique neighborhood called Aventura. As I learned from a local politician we got stuck under an awning with during a rain shower, Aventura was formed from an unincorporated part of Miami Dade county in 1995 and has some of the lowest taxes around. The real estate is vertical (high rise apartment buildings), the enormous, shmancy mall across the street from our building brings in plenty of revenue for the town, there are many gigantic yachts parked in the random coves peeking through around the edges of the neighborhood (surreal), and I am by far the biggest hippie to ever set foot here. Except for that random guy with a grey beard who drives a VW bus! Who is that guy? I want to know what he’s doing here! Anyway, my point is that I feel totally out of place here and I think it’s about time for me to finally be okay with that. I said to Mo the other day that even my most normy normative side is still “weird” compared to whatever goes on around here. Therefore, I will bring out my weirdest weird self and just not worry about what anyone is thinking about me. As my mom used to say, it’s none of my business what anyone is thinking about me anyway! This is easier said than done, but I do find that the more I spend time here, of all places, where I feel so different, the more I’m beginning to feel comfortable in my own skin. My friend posted a quote on facebook the other day, “Comparison is the thief of joy,” and it really struck a chord for me. This blog is called the JOY of Caitlin! One of my beloved friends and mentors said at our wedding that he always knew when I was in the house because he could hear me “laughing with joy all the time”! It’s time for me to take the joy back folks! Comparison, get the hell out of here.