I'm a little slow today. I just switched to Sanka. So...have a heart?

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

What do you mean, Yes, you have no bananas?

In less than a week, I'll be home; the winding, tree-lined streets of Columbia, Maryland, to my parents' seemingly enormous house, on a seemingly sizeable chunk of property. Columbia, where 95 is lined with forest; Columbia, where the streets are named "Bright passage" and "Grey Star Way," and Columbia where every place has the product you need.

Having lived in Miami for seven years now, I'm accustomed to the ebb and flow of the days (the traffic, actually) and the weather (the varying degrees of humidity) and the language ("Buenas - Can I get half a pound of ese turkey pastrami, oh, y hay rye bread? Si, one of those too please - can you slice it?") and the fact that thirty percent of the time, the thing you went to a place to buy, is out of stock... or the store you've trekked across hell and creation to get to... is closed - at 6 p.m. on a Friday.

I find that shopping for things (aspirin... WD-40... eggs...) is sort of like a dice-roll, and I always feel like I WIN, when I walk out of a store with exactly what I needed.

Even BETTER is when a store is out of something one time, when I needed it, and they have it the next time I'm there. When this happens, I invariably buy the item, even though I don't need it, because the "naches" (Yiddish: Pronounced: Na-chh-is. Definition: Joy, gratification) of seeing the product there, that wasn't there the last time, makes me have a variation of following monologue in my head, "Ground Beef at CostCo? Don't mind if I do! Never know the next time they'll be carrying ground beef here; Better stock up!"

Once I went to CostCo [for ground beef, actually - I was making "chili for a crowd"] and they didn't... uh... have any ground beef.

It was WEIRD...

And I had to make "chili for a crowd" using ground turkey... but I wasn't bummed, because I was like, "Oh well. No beef here (sidenote: at a GROCERY STORE) today. No biggie. There's ground turkey, and I can use that for chili... I really don't feel like having to go to Publix as well tonight... and at least they have SOMETHING!"

And it was at that moment when I reached some sort of Zen-like oneness and clarity with this City... right there in the Meat Section of the CostCo on 87th Avenue... and attained the realization that I had stopped fighting Miami and was just...going with it.

Back home, people don't "Go with it," presumably because they don't have to... there is no way that Safeway won't have any fresh rosemary (Riiiidiculous!) and no chance that RiteAid won't have hydrogen peroxide (Preposterous!). The Giant, being out of BANANAS, would be unthinkable.

But in Miami, it is TOTALLY possible that Tire Kingdom won't have any tires that day... or that the McFlurry Machine at McDonalds is broken. My response has developed into, "Can you help me find the __________? It should be right here, huh? Is there any in the back? No? Okay, so you don't have it? Oh well... thanks," and as I have this exchange, I'm brainstorming where else I can get that item...

When I lived in Spain, at first I marveled at how difficult it was to get the simplest tasks done, and after a while, I felt very productive when I had gotten some pictures developed, bought a pack of cigarettes, and popped by the MoviStar store to charge my phone minutes... all in one day! The Americans who adapted well to studying abroad were the ones who just... went with it. "Oh, the Travel agency is closed on Wednesdays - I'll come back tomorrow!" Those who didn't were constantly pissed off, and not really fun to hang out with.

Gradually, I feel like that's what happens to you when you come from...well, anywhere else in the country, to Miami. You either reach that Zen one-ness with the fact that even the simplest task can become a struggle here, or... you move. (See: most of my friends from law school.)

I'm not really sure how to end this post, because I guess the message of this post is to just "give up the fight," because otherwise you'll go nuts, but candidly, when I encounter people who have moved down here and are banging their heads against the wall because of our fair city's "idiosyncrasies" my advice to them is, "Give in, and accept it... and it'll make your time here a lot more pleasant."

It makes me feel like a battle-scarred warrior, dispensing sage advice to the new troops...