In the spirit of Thanksgiving, we asked irrepressible optimist Megan Ann Harmon over at Miami Favs if she’d contribute ten reasons to be thankful to live in Miami. “Only ten?” she said. We knew we had the right person for the job. Here’s her list.
The beach is my front yard
And it happens to be one of the most beautiful beaches in the world, and the things I can do on the beach are endless. I can watch the sunrise, run, stroll, surf, paddle board, wind surf, jet ski, kite board, play almost any sport, pass out on a Boucher Brothers’ lounger, drink daiquiris, walk hand-in-hand with a handsome Latino, stare at the chiseled bodies on the gay beach, attend concerts, festivals, and rallies, etc., etc., etc. Basically, the beach in our front yard is my playground.
The Everglades is my back yard
There is only one of its kind, and it’s here in Miami. If you thought our front yard was fun, think of this as your eco-adventure. You can watch meteor showers and stare at the stars, bike through mangroves, kayak, hike, go bird/gator watching, or take an air-boat ride through the swamp. Very few people ever get to see the miraculous eco-system that is the Everglades. We live in it.
The sun also sets
I can see the two most beautiful scenes of the day — sunrise and sunset – in a single day because I live in Miami. It’s an amazingly Zen experience to watch the sun come up on South Beach and then drive an hour to Key Largo to see the spectacle in reverse. And it’s worth the time. Nature does all the work. I just sit back, relax, and enjoy. And if I’m at Sundowners, that’s usually with a beer in hand, listening to a live band. Magical.
The Miami Book Fair and Art Basel
This year’s Miami Book Fair was the best thing that ever happened to this lit major. I got to watch John Waters, David Eggers, Salman Rushdie, Jonathan Franzen, and do not even get me started on the magic that was the Patti Smith reading. I die. Throw in Art Basel two weeks later, and you have yourself one happy culture-lover.
I love driving to work. Not too many people can say that. But I get to ride through South Beach, with its flip-flopped pedestrians and dog-in-basket cyclists, and across the causeway surrounded by the blue-green bay. Off of 395 I see the graffiti murals and then, from 95, a perfect view of the Magic City and its sparkling river. And that’s not even the best drive. We have A1A along the ocean, US-1 with its palm trees and colorful storefronts, Coral Way lined with ficus and banyan trees, and the postcard worthy views off the Julia Tuttle and Rickenbacker. Now I know traffic can be a bitch, but every city has horrible traffic (I know, I’ve lived in others). At least Miami has beautiful scenery to help you through the commute.
We are creative
Everyone who likes to complain about Miami’s culture is not paying attention. We have the Borscht Film Festival; Tarell Alvin McCraney, one of the best young playwrights in the world, whose goal is to open a playhouse in Miami; Jillian Mayer, whose “Scenic Jogging” won a recent Guggenheim short-film competition; the upcoming poetry festival O, Miami, organized by the University of Wynwood; and A LOT more.
Visit Santa’s Enchanted Forest, join the Gold Coast Roller Derby team, take trapeze classes, go shooting at Big Al’s Gun Range, ride a mechanical bull in Gulfstream Village, partake in parkour lessons, join a drum circle. The (weird) list goes on. Trust me, it’s all pretty spectacular.
The food in Miami is amazing. New restaurants open every week, and the old ones are still amazing. The lobster grilled cheese tomato sandwich at Red Light, the baked alaska at Michy’s, the fried fish tacos at T-Mex, the chipotle black bean burger and cookie à la mode at Lost and Found. And who’s excited about the opening of Wynwood Kitchen & Bar? This girl.
The volunteering opportunities in Miami are so diverse that anyone who wants to give back in his or her own way should be happy here. Some of my favs: Habitat for Humanity, Community Partnership for the Homeless, Fertile Earth Foundation, Surfrider Foundation, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Miami City Ballet, Hands On Miami, and TREEmendous Miami. Each of these is a great way to help your community and to meet amazing people.
Yes. The people. I am tired of hearing about the lack of cultural Miamians. Like I said, if that’s your complaint then you aren’t paying attention. I have made amazing friends in my mere 17 months here. People willing do to crazy things with me, others who will grab a glass of wine and talk politics, others who inspire me with their creativity and drive, and others still who make me laugh again and again. And then there are the bloggers, Miami’s true champions. For them, I am very thankful.
On this Thanksgiving eve, Miami, I want to tell you that I love you. You’re so pretty, you give so much, and you only get better with age. Thank you for being you.
And Happy Thanksgiving fellow Miamians! I hope you realize how much we have to be thankful for. We’re pretty lucky. And I’m glad I get to share this amazing home with all of you.