My name is Annette Cruz and I am a sophomore at Florida International University currently majoring in Elementary Education. I plan on pursuing a career where I can work with kids to help them achieve positive outcomes. I love to bake and experiment with as many flavor combinations as possible when I attempt new recipes. My signature treat is cheesecake. My goal is to run my own baking business so I can share my sweet treats with the South Florida community. Maybe one day you’ll be trying my signature 305 Cheesecake! I have always lived in Miami, but I do not know the city as well as I should. Like many tourists, my knowledge of Miami is filled with stereotypes that are probably false. Although I have lived here for nineteen years, I have not ventured or explored into the landmarks or historical sites that are the foundation of Miami. I am excited to be taking “Miami in Miami” this school year to push me out of my comfort zone and discover what makes Miami the city it is.
Metro as Text
An Open Letter to the Metro by Annette Cruz of FIU at Miami Metrorail System, 11 September 2019
I arrived at the Dadeland South Metrorail Station. I stared up at the grey columns. I heard the rattling of the tracks. The butterflies I felt when I woke up started to flutter again. “Tenga cuidado con el metro,” I hear my abuela’s warning whispered to me by the breeze. This is not my Miami. I know my city. I have existed in my city for nineteen years. What can this rusty public transit show me that I am not already comfortable with? Don’t be comfortable. Besides, I have seen the assaults and crimes reported at the metro on the news. Is it even safe?
I stare up at the grey columns. I hear the rattling of the tracks. I know my city. But have you lived in it? With butterflies still in my stomach, I walked through the gliding doors of the metro car. What could you show me that I do not know? Come look through my eyes.
I walked through the gliding doors of the metro car. My sweaty hands grabbed onto the overhead handrail. The car rattled and swayed as we traversed the tracks. I see the University of Miami as we approach University station. Hah! I am already familiar with this location. Are you really? As I disembarked, I saw the columns. They were not grey. They were familiar, giant dominoes. The butterflies fluttered away, and a smile spread across my face. I remembered the nights, the parties filled with cafecito and pastelitos. Those nights were also filled with dominoes clacking against the domino tables. I had never noticed the domino columns before. Were they always like that? As I approached the Lowe Art Museum, I noticed the students scurrying to class and laughing with friends. Not much different than me at FIU, things I am already familiar with. But my breath is taken away as I stare at not one but two paintings by El Greco. I did not know these paintings were harbored in my city, in a place I thought I was familiar with. As I walked back to the metro station, I stared up at the domino columns. I heard the rattling of the tracks. Did you see? I did and I guess I really do not know my city. Can you show me?
I walked through the gliding doors of the metro car. My sweaty hands grabbed onto the overhead handrail. The car rattled and swayed as we traversed the tracks. I stared out the window as the metro showed me the city. I smelled the sea at Vizcaya and felt the leaves of its beautiful garden. The sweat dripped down my face, the baptism of my city. I tasted one of the juiciest chicken sandwiches in Overtown and saw a glimpse of the past through the highway that was built over the Church. I ended the day by observing a mural of how my city was built.
I walked through the gliding doors of the metro car. I looked at my clock. Was it really time to end class? As I got off the metro at Dadeland South, I turned to stare at the grey columns one last time. I did not know my city and I did not know you. You are Miami’s eyes. You represent Miami’s heart. One railway, connecting cultures, socioeconomic classes, time, and space, with one swipe of a card. Thank you for letting me see through your eyes. Any time.