Fresh Paint

There’s an area of Miami called Wynwood that’s become something of a hipster watering ground in recent years. Today, I found myself wandering the area with my sister and was shocked at how much it had changed. Hold tight, folks, because this is a long one. 

That’s kind of what my visits home boil down to: shock and awe at how much things have changed. I never could’ve imagined I’d be waiting half an hour in line for fancy donuts in south Florida, but there you have it. The Salty Donut’s menu is a thing of beauty. 

I had a chocolate glazed donut and the Cocoa Puff Milk latte. The latte definitely wowed me – it really tasted like leftover milk from a bowl of Cocoa Puffs cereal, with added oomph from two shots of Intelligentsia espresso. The donut was too rich to finish in one sitting. Chocolatey and buttery, it was perfection in ringed form. I also ordered a guava donut for later, while my sister grabbed the vegan chocolate cookie dough option. Well worth the wait!

We meandered through the neighborhood for a bit before heading to the tourist-packed spectacle of the Wynwood Walls. To be fair, the whole area is covered in street art, a jumble of illegal and commissioned work. Bright colors and glaring tags are integral features of Wynwood. 

But the walls have become a proper spectacle. Out-of-towners guzzling overpriced fruit smoothies choke the sidewalks and click away with their cameras. It’s hard to blame them, though. 

Between the walls and the galleries that have sprouted up in the old industrial district, I encountered some of the most fantastic artwork I’ve ever seen. 

The lifespan of wall art in Wynwood can be unpredictable – some pieces have lingered for years while others have lasted all of 24 hours before being painted over 

My sister and I had a great time. We had some good food, took in the sights, caught up with each other. 

And I fell head-over-heels for one particular wall, which I’m hoping to incorporate elements of into my in-progress sleeves. 

Seeing what’s become of Wynwood, it’s hard to imagine that just a few years ago it was no-man’s land. The police cruisers prowling the crowds serve as a reminder of that. Like its walls, Wynwood has undergone a strange sort of transition: gentrification. Once upon a time, it was Little Haiti. But the city’s desperate, tumultuous expansion has left no neighborhood untouched. The crumbling barracks-style apartments that my Abuela lived in her whole US life are gone now, torn down to make way for high rises. With an influx of young high-rollers, the city’s aging Caribbean immigrants are pushed further into the outskirts of neighborhoods they once dominated. Warehouse districts now boast trendy eateries and dance clubs. And it just feels…weird. 

I fucking love donuts. Who doesn’t? Fascists, that’s who. But I feel like I no longer recognize my hometown. Every time I come back to Miami, I find it harder to readjust. For better or for worse, I can’t imagine what it must be like to live here anymore. It’s become glaringly apparent to my that the Miami I knew doesn’t exist anymore. I blinked, and it disappeared. Its been a long time since I pretended I’d ever move back, but I don’t think I could even if I wanted to – I doubt I could afford it. 

It’s a strange sense of displacement. Like the walls of Wynwood, I can’t predict what’ll come next. All I can really do is face it head on. So bring on the fresh paint, 2017. I’m ready for it.