Ofelia and Alberto Roque, my maternal grandparents, are considered the trailblazers in our family. To the family, she’s affectionately referred to as “Negri”, to me she was “Tita” and he was “Tata”. They were middle class working people. Alberto and his brothers were of the thought that Castro would improve the country; my grandmother did not partake in their view on the matter. The world was divided into two camps, those that believed in Castro and his vision (eventually communism), and those that believed that Castro’s vision was too radical. It took much convincing of my grandfather to leave all he knew, with the promise of a better life for themselves and their future family, but Negri was just the woman for the job. The choice wasn’t popular with the Roque clan at first, but in due time they came around. A funny story is always told, my great-uncle didn’t agree with what his brother (my grandfather) had been persuaded to do, so his farewell to my grandmother was a sarcastic “Goodbye, Missus” in English, basically saying he thought she was turning her back on Cuba. A few years later, she was able to return the favor by greeting her brother-in-law with a “Hello Mister,” when he arrived in the U.S.
The “Freedom Flights” brought this brave couple to Miami, Florida, where they found their small sense of home in Little Havana. It was a short stay, whispers o...
... middle of paper ...
...mi to broaden my horizons. I needed a change of pace. I found myself in Atlanta, Georgia for nearly two years. It was as long as I could hold out on my dear, dear, “305”. I had an epiphany, I could choose anywhere in the world to live, but I chose Miami. I moved back just an hour south of my old stomping grounds, to Key Largo. Really, it’s a 45-minute drive once you do it routinely, but it’s a completely different world. I lasted about a year and a half before again, I couldn’t bear to be away.
Presently living in Miami, all things considered, I feel at peace with my surroundings. There isn’t a geographical location that I could call home, but Miami is the closest to what I imagine home to be. To say I am beholden to my grandparents for choosing Miami to put roots down would be a monumental understatement. Before I was even thought of, they knew me better than anyone.
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