I was born and raised in Westchester, Miami, Florida, a cute little suburban community full of constant Coral Way traffic and home to the office of the district's state representative. It was an interesting place to grow up in because we all knew where Westchester started, but no one knew where it ended. We end up claiming more territory than we actually have (sorry Olympia Heights!). Our home turf covered the square from 8th street to Bird Road, then 97th Ave to the 826.
You can say it with an accent, you can pretend it doesn't exist, but if you grew up in this four-mile radius of a "town," there are just some things that stuck with you. There are a few ways to spot a fellow Westchester neighbor and it isn't just from the way they say, "Westchester."
1. Chickens in the front yard are as common as pigeons to you.
Chickens and peacocks in the front yard seemed far more believable than pigeons.
2. You know the words, by heart, to the recording for "El Afilador"
He didn't care what time of day it was, he was just trying to sharpen your knives.
3. You always look for mangoes or avocados to be sold while at the intersection.
Did you forget to pick up limes at the grocery store? Need flowers for a last minute gift? Feeling parched and wanting a soda? There's always someone walking up and down the rows of cars trying to sell food and other goods.
4. Santa's Enchanted Forest is your worst nightmare.
You can hear it now, the classic jingle. You know that the park opens halfway through the year and you can never visit Tropical Park during that time.
5. The Fair, on the other hand, is the best thing to come around every year.
Even though it's not in our designated district, you can't help but get excited for The Fair. The food is way too good to miss out on.
6. You know the best hot dog and chili cheese fries are at Arbetter's.
There's no argument to be had. Arbetter's has been around since 1959 and they're still serving up some fire food. Just remember to say, "I love Larry Bird" the next time you get a refill.
7. The Palmetto has been under construction since before you were born.
With no end in sight, you might as well get used to the constant construction. At this point, you're so used to the construction that you never notice when it isn't happening.
8. You say, "like," "literally," "super," and "busting missions" every other word.
Everything is a mission, bro. Like, you literally can't sometimes. It's super crazy, bro.
9. You have your favorite bakery and won't go to any of the others.
... except maybe Isla Canarias.
10. The words to "Sh*t Miami Girls Say" are forever engrained in your mind.
Seven years ago, the most iconic Miami video was born. Thanks to a couple of private school kids, this video will live on with lines like, "we're getting bottles, bro" and "what's your cheapest pink wine?"
11. You remember the Westchester Mall way before they turned into Walmart.
The good ole days, before Walmart and Valsan took over. You even remember life before the Publix Sabor.
12. You run on Cuban time, even if you aren't Cuban.
If the party starts at 9 pm, you know that people won't show up until almost 11 pm. Everything has to be planned with two-hour notice for everyone that runs on Cuban time.
13. Some words you say with an accent, no matter what.
"Westchester," "Macdonal," "Liro Siser," "La Sawesera," "Gualmar," to name a few.
14. Bird Bowl is the only place you'll go bowling now.
Before all the fancy new bowling places opened up, there was -and still is- Bird Bowl. The smell of that place brings back too many birthday parties to name.
15. The hill at Tropical Park is the highest point of elevation in all of Westchester.
Just outside of our district is the hill- the hill we all forced ourselves to run up as children and race down on bikes, pizza boxes, and sometimes each other.
16. Wearing a Columbus sweater instantly made you cool.
Any girl that walked into class with a Columbus sweater on -even in the 90 degree heat- was making it known that she was texting a boy at Columbus, and that was a big deal.
17. The "Welcome to Westchester" sign is the most comforting thing you'll ever see.
The moment you see "Entering Westchester" when you get off the 826, or the big flower on the sign with "Welcome to Westchester" so proudly displayed, you know you're home.