First Visit to Miami & a Dose of Reality

© M.C.V. Egan

It is a funny thing about life that it sometimes foreshadows events, in the same fashion as a well written novel. These moments are such that we often recognize them well after the fact, but sometimes they are far too obvious to ignore.

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In August 1981, when President Ronald Reagan fired more than 11,000 air traffic controllers, I was returning from my honeymoon, the stop in Miami was meant to be a short one.

With airports functioning with the most basic of skeleton crews it turned into a full day at the Miami airport, with no guarantee from the airline as to when we would leave and a strong suggestion not to leave the airport.

Like many fellow travelers we found a place to sit or at times lay down on the floor and waited. The honeymoon had not been what one would call a success and here was another “sign” that ours was not the brightest of futures as a couple.

As the minutes dragged into hours my Swedish husband in great discomfort from his Cancun sunburn was far from a pleasant travel companion. I can only assume that he remembers me just as difficult. In an era devoid of all the fabulous excuses we have today; phones, laptops, iPads; and even though Sony Walkman’s came out in 1979, they were far from common place in 1981 with non-rechargeable batteries. There were only two perfect excuses not to look at each other or talk; reading and sleeping.

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It was in those long hours at the Miami airport that I discovered The Woman’s Room by Marilyn French, It was at the end of my honeymoon that I began to realize I was a feminist. At the age of 22, as an avid murder mystery reader, it was far from a logical book for me to be attracted to, but as I said, the honeymoon had not been a great success. I had already solved many a mystery and found a corpse or two in those magical days generally reserved for planning a happy future.

In the little over five years that my first marriage lasted I read more than most people do in a lifetime. Escaping the reality of my life I was open to every possible genre and re-read books I had not particularly appreciated when they were a requirement from a class rather than a pleasure.

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That August 1981 day at the Miami airport I had no way of knowing that by the end of that decade I would permanently move to South Florida with my second husband nor that all the reading that replaced living during my first marriage would be the strong foundation I needed to plunge into fearless writing.

As signs and Omens go when we were finally boarded onto a plane packed with tired weary travelers, the flight to Washington D.C.’s National Airport (Reagan’s name was not added until 1998) was smooth and uneventful.

The Washington D.C. area was my home for well over a decade and when we disembarked an old boyfriend who was unaware of my new marital status was welcoming his grandmother from Miami on that very plane. He was a lively, loud, gregarious Cuban American. His greeting “Catalina!” was followed by plopping a gigantic sloppy kiss on my lips. I introduced him to my husband which he appraised in a state of confusion.

At 22 I do not remember the voice somewhere in the back of my mind that must have made it clear ours was destined to be a short future.

PLEASE VISIT ME AT COZY IN MIAMI

29 thoughts on “First Visit to Miami & a Dose of Reality

  1. Wow! A great life experience, and as great a reason to remember Miami for all your life, I’m sure. I’ve always been of the opinion that life is often more eventful and unexpected than any book.
    Thanks for sharing this piece of memory with us, Catalina!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Great post. I have fantastic memories of Miami and its airport, too.
    As cabin crew on ‘beach fleet’ I flew there almost monthly in the late 90s and early 00s. I remember the chimes and beautiful coloured partitions in the airport buildings- and a few delays and thunderstorms.
    Watch out, I’ll come and visit you, soon 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Reblogged this on Smorgasbord – Variety is the spice of life and commented:
    Catalina Egan remembers a day in 1981 when a forced lay over in Miami proved to be more insightful than she realised but it also brought The Woman’s Room by Marilyn French into her life. I was a little older and as far across the country as I could get from a similar situation when a good friend gave me a copy of The Penquin Dorothy Parker.. He said he thought I might find some of her more acerbic comments useful as I regained by confidence.. Thirty six years later I still have that book. One of my favourite verses is Unfortunate Coincidence.. short but pithy.. google it. Great piece Catalina and so pleased that you have a wonderful two men in your life now.

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  4. Wow what a learning adventure you had at 22. I have never been to Miami. But I am blessed I got to meet you and your two favorite men in Orlando last year. Really enjoy being your friend and love your writing.

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  5. What a great story Catalina. I love this. It funny how we don’t realise history is in the making until it becomes the past, and that pivital moments are happening in our lives all the time. I’m glad you had all those books to help you transition in both life and your passion for writing.

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  6. What a fascinating and ominous experience. It reminded me of a truckers’ strike in the beginning of my marriage that held my car captive for a month as we relocated 2000 miles away. My new husband took our only car 30 miles to work, leaving me stranded, without a job, a car, friends, family. We survived, though. Now 42 years. ☺ sent here from Sally.

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