I am going home.
Tomorrow, my daughter and I will fly south to Miami, to visit family and build sand castles on Miami Beach.
I always day dream about palm trees, big puffy clouds and the calming sound of surf for days before we leave. From all these miles away, I can taste the thick, sweet Cuban coffee and the Colombian arepas I love so much. Going home makes me happy.
And as much I love our place here in Tennessee, I realized a few years ago that the place where I was raised is the place I love best. I likely never will live there again, so these regular trips are what my soul needs.
Maria likes to hear stories about my childhood in Miami. I tell her about the large tribe I grew up in, the leathery, old folks who walked miles of beach while my cousins and I played on the shore, the neighborhood bakery where my grandfather took me to buy sugary treats.
My daughter tells me often she wishes she could go to Cuba, like now. She really means Miami. She thinks that because her grandparents are Cuban, they live in Cuba. Close enough, I tell her laughing. But anyway, she is developing her own special love with the place. She too gets regular trips to the bakery, she too gets to play on the beach, and she -- like I once was -- gets spoiled by two doting grandparents and well-perfumed aunts.
When we arrive, waiting for us will be three relatives Maria never has met. My step-father's eldest daughter, her husband, and son immigrated from Havana to Miami barely two weeks ago. It is an exciting time in our family. My hometown is their new hometown. And, I'm looking forward to seeing it through their eyes and of showing them the places and the people I love.
After all the sun and beach and the gazillions of relatives loving on Maria, we'll see if she willingly comes back to her home. She tells me often she wants to live in the city, on a real street, and without as many trees as we have. She's a city girl at heart.
Well, if she ever decides to pack it up in Nashville and head further South toward The Homeland, at least I'll have yet another place to crash and get my annual fix of home.