06 April 2014

"Dad, admit it. You're Cuban."

After the highs of Day One of the 'Look Back' weekend, I wondered how we might top it. I had no need to worry. It was another great day.

This is a longer post - you have been warned.

Mother Nature played nice the entire time, so with the sun peeking through the windows of our 7th floor corner room at Turnberry Isle, I went out on a three mile run around the property while The Boy slept. Although the run was shameful (being lapped by my elderly Jewish brothers and sisters on their way to services), it was beautiful. How can you not stop and take in a view like this:
From there, it was time for breakfast. We wound up at a bagel emporium where we were most assuredly the Gentiles. It was all a part of the cacophony of culture that is south Florida that The Boy was absorbing. A quick left on Biscayne Blvd. took us into the heart of the area that I grew to love when I lived and served there. Downtown Miami has changed so much since the mid-80's. Wow! But somethings have not - like the apartment I lived in:
La Jaulita...suffice to say we didn't go knock on the door to meet the current residents.

From there we drive down Flagler Street. As we drove, The Boy took in the music blaring from the stores and the shouts of the old men in line at the cafeterias that populate every corner and he said, 'Dad, this is another country.' Testify, son, testify. That said, I was in heaven. I was among mi gente (my people) once again.

We got to the old Flagler Chapel and I was delighted to see that, from the outside, it hadn't changed much. We stopped the car and got out and walked around a bit. It was like being home again.
While we were there, we discovered that the building was open, as the first session of the General Conference of our church would be starting shortly. Before going in, four missionaries, all Spanish speakers arrived. It was so fun to walk through that building and to tell them what it was like all those years ago. The inside has changed a bit (no more tea cup pulpit or filthy, cockroach-infested baptismal font under a trap door on the stage) but it was the church I knew so well. As we talked with the missionaries, I saw myself and the missionaries I served with in them. The wide-eyed excitement, the willingness to talk to anybody...those were good, no, great times.

We had a lunch date on Calle Ocho so we couldn't stick around. Before getting to Versailles, that cheesy temple of good Cuban food, we went to a store called Sentir Cubano. It's a place dedicated to all things Cuban. It was awesome. You have to remember that I'm splitting my time in two languages and as I was talking with one of the sales people, The Boy made the following wise observation, 'Dad, admit it. You're Cuban.' I couldn't have been more proud of that pronouncement. Also the Cuban flag The Boy bought to hang for the rear view mirror of his car was complete awesomeness!

At Versailles, wherein The Boy was introduced to the glory that is the medianoche sandwich, we met my friend Mimi, her husband, and son. Back in the mission days, we would have been in un mundo de dolor (a world of hurt), were it not for her. How great it was to reconnect over tostones and bistec empanizado. We had such a good time telling stories!
Good friends

A trip to Florida, no matter how brief, would not have been complete without the beach. After lunch, we headed back north and then over to our hotel's beach. I'm not gonna lie, our hotel had it going on recreationally:
As the sun set in the west, we noticed we were a little pinker than at the start of the day and we decided to call it. We wrapped up the evening taking in counsel in General Conference (thanks, live streaming!) and gnoshing on some Key Lime Pie. Who's going to complain about that?

What a whirlwind the 'Look Back' weekend has been! To bring my son back to where I served as he is just a few months away from his own opportunity to serve has been sweeter than I could have anticipated. I am so glad that when we first started talking about this that the stunningly patient and mighty fine SML said, 'You have to do this.' There is so much about this trip that falls in the 'Unforgettable' category, but as I sit here writing this, sporting my Cubavera shirt, the pronouncement, 'Dad, you're Cuban' will forever make me smile.

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