It was almost night and there was wind

and there was wind

This article was originally published in Grain of Salt magazine’s second issue, “Sublime”

And you were walking down Collins and 79th, parallel to the beach and you were walking behind the rest of the group. The smell of flowers, beach salt and sativa fill the air, the signature scent for a summer evening walking down Miami Beach.

You’re in one of those sour moods you seem to find yourself in lately. The one that turns you off from everything else going on. It happened right after dinner, and on top of that, you’re sobering up and crazy bloated. Fuck. I shouldn’t have worn these shorts. The AirPods you have on are starting to ache and dig into your ears. You’re perpetually five paces behind the rest of the group. 

It’s 8:15. Maybe 8:10? It’s not completely dark yet? Your feet hurt. You wore the wrong shoes for this. But there’s no stopping so you keep walking even though your soles hurt. Looking to the left at one of the beach entrances, you see the horizon line. The ocean and the sky almost blend together creating the warmest shade of blue. The lampposts turn on as you turn your head back, glowing the same shade of orange you used to hate but recently started dreaming about.

When will I be inspired? I’m so tired. I should’ve changed already. Miami is known for its absolutely abysmal summers. You’ve lived here almost 20 years but you’ll never get used to it. The kind of heat that sticks to your skin even after you’ve finished making the voyage indoors. One that berates you endlessly so that even the highest A/C setting won’t save you. But tonight, by the beach, the breeze is kind to you. You hated walking outdoors in the summer. And now … now … Hmm … this is nice. This is good. 

“No, you love this city. Look how you talk about it,” you had a friend once tell you. It was a shock. Do I really? Is it easy for other people to tell when you love something? Is anyone really capable of knowing what they love? Despite the city signs not permitting wheels on the sidewalks, two kids ride on scooters. They’re yelling at each other the way siblings do. Their parents walk in front of you. They’re holding hands. As they pass you, you can smell the white sage radiating off their bodies. It smells like your childhood home and what your family used to burn to keep the ghosts away. The woman, in talking to her husband, has her gaze drop to his lips, just before meeting his eyes again. Maybe you just know. I’m falling behind. 

You walk a few more blocks, the sidewalks lined with beach sunflowers. A biker passes you. You only realize afterward, but the bike is the best shade of orange. “It’s just like the world doesn’t stop,” one of the members in your group mentions. I think it does. You have work and school but … it doesn’t exist. Not right now at least. It’s gone, and it’ll be there, but. Right now. I think. I think you might be fine. It seems to be fine. At least right now. 

You’re still on Collins Ave. People will say it’s touristy — and it is, no denying that — but the art deco buildings have always held your heart. They were going to tear it down, you know. Once upon a time. Someone decided it was important and beautiful enough to stay. Now it’s a designated part of city history. It’s all done from care and attention.

It’s easy to stay stuck in the monotony of feeling stuck. It’s easy to stay strung up and tied upside down. You’re the hanged man. Stagnant. God knows it’s easy to wait and hope a spark of something falls into your lap, so you can feel like yourself again. I miss my cat. I miss my roommates. My brother. My childhood. My best friend. You can miss how music used to sound to you. You’re walking behind your group and wondering if you’re built right for the size of love you want to carry. If it’s possible at all. 

Again. The frustration and the resignation at feeling stuck and uninspired are easy. You never know it’s there until all your pages lose their color and the love you have tastes stale. 

It’s not hard. You went by weeks feeling it. And though you don’t want to hear it, you fell in love endlessly today. You’re full of it. Your belly is going to burst from yummy food, your favorite colors follow you endlessly and the beach is kind to you. Love exists in strangers, music and history; aren’t you lucky to just be alive in proximity to it?

I … I think that maybe love is in recognizing it when you think it’s not there. I think that even when it’s hard, and it’s supposed to be, inspiration doesn’t drop in your lap but it’s something that meets you when you look for it. As elusive as it is, a lot of it is just will, you know? I am able to stop time; I am able to be at ease, even for a moment. Even in the things I despise the most, love surrounds me and hides within it all. In the smallest most insignificant gestures, you look for signs of love. You might not see it, but you inspire love. Maybe I am right for this. 

You start making the walk back to the car. The group still leads you, but you’re not feeling as lonely. And you’re walking back down a street you’ve known your whole life, and you pass by the apartment your dad lived in when your parents first split. Florida citrus flowers make you breathe even deeper, and the moon shares this breath as she peeks out from behind her cloudy blanket. I think you’ve changed. I think all that you needed was a breezy walk to get you to know it. You’re nearly back at the car, and now your legs ache at the hips and with each stride, but you don’t mind. The wind hits your face, and your hair past due for a cut feels weightless on your shoulders. It’s cool. Especially for June. You’d think that in the face of pain and resistance from the wind you’d want to stop. You could walk a hundred miles if you wanted. I think it’ll be fine. Something tells me it’s not all bad.

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