Tag Archives: Coral Gables

The Aristocrat: my first friend in Florida

On Saturday I launched a search for the best way to make friends in Miami (see my previous post linked below).

My family and I moved here from Dallas on New Year’s Day, 2012 and thus far I have made 2.5 new friends.

I met my first friend Mary in mid-February. After unpacking boxes and getting my three children settled in school I sat down and emailed the four friends of my friends whose addresses were given to me before I moved (did you follow that? Friend set-ups). I heard back from all but one.

With two of them I played a game of tag. We emailed back and forth until someone forgot we were playing. I am pretty sure it was not me. That left one potential new friend and honestly, I thought a 25% return for my email efforts was not so bad.

I get it. We are all busy and some people just don’t have any white space on their calendars. A dear friend from Dallas, who I vacationed with this summer said something like that: “You know Meredith, I have such a full, busy life, I don’t really want to make any new friends. I can barely keep up with those that I already have.” Why should these new girls work a stranger into their lives if they can barely make time for people they already know?

But Mary had her reasons. In fact, as soon as she read the name Sarah Brown, she said her fingers were flying with a reply (I love this story).

“Dear Meredith,

It was so good to hear from you. I would love to plan a get-together soon. What day will work for you? Sarah Brown was my very first friend at the University of Texas. I went to orientation without knowing a soul and Sarah was assigned the dorm room next to mine. She was from Dallas but seemed to know every Texan at the entire school and I was so thankful that she let me tag along with her for the weekend. When our freshman year began we pledged different sororities but always kept up. If I ever needed clarification on a Texas eccentricity, or really anything at all, Sarah was the first person I called. I would do anything for her.”

Well thank you Sarah. I thought that was a pretty awesome pay-it-forward twenty years after the fact!

We agreed to meet with the kids at Riviera Country Club on a Tuesday after school the next week. When I came home from our date I told my husband if anyone ever used the term aristocracy anymore I would call Mary an aristocrat!

The Junior League, University of Miami Art Board, TWO yacht clubs, never mind the golf club where we were sitting. Have you heard of the fancy resort in Key Largo that every U.S. President has visited? It is called Ocean Reef. Mary and her family are members there too! They take their beautiful 32 foot boat down for the day and sometimes spend the weekend in their condo in the Keys.

I hit the jack pot! Mary is a well of wonderful information, but it gets even better. She is SUPER NICE, but not in that sappy sweet sort-of way. Really nice which made me feel comfortable digging for information about Miami society.

She is also available. Not all the time, but enough. She works, has 2 young children and lots of family and friends in town. Mary and her husband both went to high school in the Gables… well look at me, I am already picking-up the local slang. “The Gables” is short for Coral Gables. Some would argue the Gables is the most beautiful suburb of Miami and I might agree, but I digress…

When I call, Mary always finds time to answer my questions. We have enjoyed dinner at a few Miami hotspots with Mary and her husband and spent a wonderful afternoon on Biscayne Bay with their entire family.

She lives close but our paths rarely cross. Our children go to different schools. If I was in a bind and my husband was out-of-town, I would be comfortable asking Mary or her husband for help. Just knowing that they are there feels nice.

Sometime before Christmas, when I get through my back-to-school to-do list, I will call Mary for a lunch date to hear about her typical Miamian’s summer, which means a summer not spent in Miami (they say it is too hot to stay here… we’ll save that topic for another day) and I know she will make it happen.

And when I am teaching and re-teaching my children the Golden Rule I will tell them the story of Sarah, Mary and me and remind them that you must always do unto others as you would have done unto you because you never know when you will need a recommendation for membership to one of the most exclusive yacht clubs in Florida every action causes a reaction and your simple kindness might brighten someone else’s life 20 years from now, and that is just well, super cool!
Key Biscayne Sand Bar

The opposite of anonymous

The opposite of anonymous: distinctive, named, known.

I like known.

Being known.

For me, the hardest part about moving across country is leaving the place you are known.

In your home town, friends honk when they see you and wave when they run by.

It might not be true, but it feels like an extra set of eyes are watching your children at school, because the principal knows your name.

The clerk at the laundromat has your dry cleaning pulled and ready to go when she sees your car pull into the parking lot.

Your running group never leaves at 1 minute after your designated meet time because they know you might show up in 5.

When you are sick, or recovering from surgery, you never know which friend or neighbor will show up at the door with dinner, or offer to take your children to play so you can have a quiet house.

And maybe, the waiter at your favorite restaurant will keep your glasses in his front pocket for 3 weeks until you return again, because he just knew you would be back soon.

But then all that knowing gets a little overwhelming.

The more people you know, the more people you have to say good-bye too when you leave.

Sometimes the right words don’t come.

You have to say good-bye to your family, your friends and even people you don’t know very well.

How do you say thank you for the organizational help when you were preparing to show the house, because your friend knows that organizing is really not your “thing?” Or to another that invited the neighborhood and everyone you have ever known in the city to a wonderful goodbye party? And then to your parents that came to every one of their 3 grandchildren’s soccer games, dance recitals, and swim meets not out of obligation but because they really wanted to be there.

The packing and planning and partying and packing and planning and… it all becomes so chaotic, there is a huge crescendo and then you are gone!

You move. And, after you unpack the boxes, and get the kids enrolled in school… it stops.

You become anonymous.

Someone hands you a clean slate.

AFter the craziness that moving can bring the silence of anonymity is nice.

You don’t have to do anything you don’t want to do because you have no obligation.

Want to try a new church? Do it.

Want to be a faceless parent in the PTA, you can try.

Grown tired of the traditional furnishings in your house? Get rid of them. Your new town is full of contemporary furniture stores, why don’t you give it a go?

How about a belly dancing class at the gym? No risk someone you know will see that your hips don’t move like the rest of the class because you don’t know anyone!

Ever wondered if blondes really DO have more fun? Of if it is the red color, not part of their personality that give your sweet carrot topped friends their extra spunk? Why don’t you check it out?

Adding a little adventure to my life has helped ease the pain of leaving home. It has been fun! Thursday I entered La Bella Salon in Coral Gables a brunette and left like this:

Do reds have more fun?

And I have to tell you, I am feeling a little feisty! With this new color, I need to be careful. It might be hard to remain anonymous with my new flaming head.

All Hail the Queen

The Queen of the Flowering Trees… the Royal Poinciana.

located in South Gables

the first Royal I saw in bloom in May 2012

I took this picture in Coral Gables at Riviera Park, in front of my son’s school in early May. I have never seen anything like it, have you? I watched as a few red flowers began to grow then … POW, the tree erupted in red!

I had to get a better look!

I had just enough time before school let out that day to walk under the tree and feel what it was like to be engulfed in red flowers; to almost be wrapped in her arms.


I went straight home that day and did a little research (GOOGLE!). This flowering tree can be found in tropical climates all over the world. It is also called the Flamboyant tree, which seems more appropriate than the regal alternative. After my discovery of this red goddess in early May, I was shocked when I woke-up a week later to find she has strutted herself all over this town. Red flowers bloomed from a tree on every block. As time marches on toward summer she seems to show her beauty for anyone that will notice, without regard for the mess of leaves and pods that she leaves behind.

Nevertheless, last week, when the little red flowers began to sprout in my yard, it didn’t matter how many others I had to share her with- I am in awe and am willing to pay a high price for the mere moments (or maybe a month or so) that I get to spend in her presence.

Next weekend is the 75th Annual Royal Poinciana Festival in Coral Gables. And although its not exactly the red double decker bus that my 6 year old has been dying to climb aboard, I think we’ll jump on the free trolly to get a grand tour of Miami’s Loveliest Ladies.

Discovering the Architecture in Coral Gables

My daughters go to school right in the middle of what I call, “old Coral Gables,” at Granada Presbyterian Church. Coral Gables, Florida is one of the first planned communities in the United States developed in a Mediterranean Revival style during the roaring 1920s by a visionary named George Merrick.

I’ve been wanting to see a little bit more of the architecture so late last week I dropped the girls off at school and took off from there on an easy run down what our realtor described as one of their oldest promenades, Granada Boulevard.

When the modern-day cars weren’t zipping by (or honking… Miamians love to honk), I could imagine running down this street in 1929…. it was just gorgeous

This pink home is being remodeled.. I can’t wait to see the end result

This home is made of coral rock. I love the blue door!

The landscaping was spectacular both the new beds and the ancient trees.

Home on Granada Blvd

What neighborhood have you been anxious to see in your home town? Well, what’s stopping you? Grab your running shoes and drive over there. You can run or walk while discovering something new.

Exploring the Magic City: Miami

I cannot explain my desire to really know every inch of this city. My family and I moved to Miami four months ago and I am just so…well, tantalized, by all of the layers and details that make this city who she is.

I also think it is more than that. Maybe if I can learn what makes this city pulse than I have the chance to become a part of that current?

That sounds so dramatic doesn’t it? Maybe it’s just that as a mom with 3 young children in school, and limited free time I am struggling to be patient. I keep learning of new areas to explore in Miami, or an event to attend, and have to add them to the list, because there just isn’t enough time in each day. But slowly I will make time… that promise satisfy and excites me.

I’ve had a few friends call me fearless, and on some days that feels to be so. I am brave; I love to try new things. But I’ve also wondered if it is insecurity. Why not just settle in the moment? But, I donn’t think about either long- I’m not really interested in dissecting my curiosity.

I think maybe some of us are just born that way- we like to GO!

(I digress here, but bear with me… I have a cute story) My youngest daughter is the same. If anyone is leaving the house, AK is throwing on her tutu and coming along. She can be seen almost everywhere in one of many tutus, BUT NOT at school. Much to her dismay at her new school all must wear uniforms. However, just because you don’t see the tutu doesn’t mean it isn’t there… you would not believe the fashions that AK has underneath that plaid skirt.

When we moved here we jumped into school, and baseball, and began to create all of our new routines. And even though that has been hectic, being unencumbered by social obligations can really free up your schedule!

So we’ve started to explore and I would like to share these adventures with you here on this blogsite, primarily because I like to write. I find a bit therapeutic when I miss friends or family OR when I’ve been on mommy mode for too long and my brain is starting to feel like mush.

Also, I have had many sweet friends call or email to check in on us and I thought this would be a great way to keep up.

And maybe, it might help somebody else? If nothing else give you a nudge to go explore your own city…. Find out what makes it who she is? Or if you are coming to Miami I hope I can give you some fun ideas on how to spend your time here.