Saying Goodbye to my Hometown – My Send-Off Party in Miami

When planning out all the emotional highs I’d experience during a year of outdoor exploration, climbing, and living in a van, I forgot to calculate for one very important factor: the pain of saying goodbye.

I don’t do goodbyes. I often just avoid them, replacing the finality of a farewell with the ambiguity of a more hopeful “see you later!” Let’s face it: Goodbyes just suck. No matter how you slice or dice it, there is nothing fun about leaving what you love.

Last weekend, Niko and I drove down to Miami for one final week of boating, fresh seafood, sleeping in hammocks on my patio, and the best send-off party a gal could ever imagine. Our climber buddies McGoo and Bo joined us for the weekend, and I was surprised by a visit from my not-really-Uncle John, who flew in from New York for the festivities.

As much as I gripe about Miami, its ferocious drivers, and the bad attitude that radiates from the core of the city, I am going to miss my hometown more than I expected. We hit up all my favorite foodie spots during the week, including empanadas and café con leches from Ruben’s Cuban, fresh conch fritters and a Miami Vice (with an extra rum shooter, of course) from Monty’s Raw Bar in Coconut Grove, and divine sushi from Sea Siam.

I bid farewell to my family’s boat with one last outing on the bay. The weather was less than favorable, so we cruised up the Miami River to avoid any gusty winds or rocky seas. We toasted with beer and whiskey, docked along the river for fried calamari and oysters at Casa Blanca’s, and eventually made our way back to Matheson Hammock Marina. The crew sailing along the Miami River during my farewell visit to my hometown.

The highlight of the trip was the enormous going-away party my parents threw the night before we hit the road. An unlikely cacophony of neighbors, family, childhood friends, co-workers, and college cohorts converged upon the Boué abode for a wild evening. There was a lot of gin, beer, wine, and merrymaking.

My favorite FSU ladies, Marisa and Brooke, drove to Miami to surprise me at my going-away party - love them!

Niko gets 100+ boyfriend points for being such a good sport during the party. My entire family came out for the celebration, which means he had the insane experience of meeting 40+ crazy Cubans in one shot. He totally endured multiple “if you don’t take care of her, we will kill you” conversations, haha!

My three best college friends even drove from Key West, Tampa, and Cocoa Beach to come surprise me at my party. It was such a great surprise, I haven’t seen those ladies in years!

We parked the van out in the backyard where we usually store the boat, and I lit it up with a few extra candles – it was totally the star of the show. I felt like a tour guide showing partygoers around in my little mobile home.The van perched out where we keep the boat in MIami. Niko and I clearly feeling the booze buzz at my going-away party in Miami.

In the morning, I postponed my true goodbyes for as long as possible, and finally bid a teary “see you later,” to my family, and my pup rusty. No way around it, it sucked. It was hard pulling away from my house, it was hard passing by all my favorite trees on the way out of Miami, it was hard to accept that I’m not coming back for at least a year.

But hell, the big journey is about to begin,
there’s really no time for sadness right now.

Ode to Rusty

With Niko heavy-bodied and snuggled next to me last night, I was left alone with my thoughts as I waited for the clicking of his ceiling fan to lull me to sleep. As I lay under the chilly artificial wind, the most random memory surfaced: I remembered the first time that we brought Rusty home from the shelter, and watched him cower under our kitchen counter.

While finding a puppy was a group effort among the Boué women, I was the one to stake a claim on the adorable greyhound-pointer mutt wagging his tongue out from the spokes of his puppy prison. His name was ‘Snickerdoodle’, and he had some sort of skin rash that prevented us from bringing him home for almost an entire month. We visited him frequently, and crowds would always gather around this gorgeous spotted pup.

“Sorry, he’s already been adopted,” I’d always smirk.

We finally brought him home on a blistering summer day. Snickerdoodle was stowed away in the stale plastic carrier that had once housed our long-lost cat Rufus. The crate was placed beneath the nook of our kitchen counter, and the door gently opened to invite the shy puppy out to explore his new home. It took hours. He would nudge his floppy ears out, poke out a single paw, tremble, then retreat back to the shadows of his tiny enclosure. We waited patiently and whispered friendly coaxes urging comfort and trust.

Eventually, he must have come out. We settled on the name ‘Rusty’ to match his copper-colored spots that dotted the bottoms of his legs and shimmied up his back. Then he started growing, and I can’t even tell you how he went from a scrawny little mutt to a broad greyhound descendant with a streamlined body and plate-sized paws. I miss that gentle beast like he’s my own brother – because he really is. He beams with excitement whenever I come home, and cries at the sight of me packing luggage in my room. He’s the greatest dog that’s ever lived.

Miami Photos

I apologize for my lack of updates lately – it has been a whirlwind the last few days with the Tallahassee Rock Gym’s 15th Anniversary and preparing for our trip. My To-Do list is longer than ever before, and we’ll be hitting the road tomorrow at noon, so I need to get crackin’, but I wanted to give you guys something to tide you over until I start posting updates from my travels across America.

Here are some fun shots I took at home in Miami, with my Dad’s beautiful Nikon SLR.

Many more shots after the jump!

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