I can think of three moments that shaped my desire to write, none of which I knew were particularly significant at the time. The first was at age five when my reluctance to learn to read was cracked by a choice gift of Star Wars: The Essential Guide to Characters. Suddenly, faced with a wealth of knowledge about a world I so wanted to know, I had no choice but to step up to the task and learn my letters. To this day, that love of detail and character suffuses my reading and my writing. Any world that needs an index to keep track of all its inhabitants is a world I want to explore, and the kind of world I aspire to create.
The second was an unsuccessful attempt at The Herald Hunt as an elementary schooler. While the experience was enough to convince me that my early dream of private detective work was not where my talents lay, the sensation of the city I thought I knew so well, made stranger by having mystery and puzzle overlaid on it lingered far past that day. And the desire to make spaces into stages for stories, to do magic in The Magic City is one that drives me in my present work staging both traditional plays and immersive theater in unique and unexpected settings.
My last one is cheating a bit, because it’s not really a moment but a whole lifetime. I have grown up in a city where the story of a man carrying a shark onto the Metrorail was widely known. Where by third grade I was roughly familiar with Medicare fraud. Where luminaries like Dave Barry and Carl Hiaasen stand shining their light on a weird path through a strange swampland. And having grown up here, how can I not want to write stories that would make even the South Floridian who had seen it all raise their eyebrows in surprise.
At twenty-five, I’m still in the early stages of my career, and assuming I know myself well enough to fully account for me is probably presumptuous. But I know that being born into a city of stories unlike any other has and always will shape me, and given me a love for the interwoven milieu of motivations, ambitions and weirdness that is uniquely Miami.
Miami and Me
My roots in Miami began when my great-grandfather, Harry Hector, pilfered some roots of his own as he took a batch of peat from Belle Glade to sell as fertilizer in Miami. I admit, my knowledge of my family’s history mostly focuses around incidents like that, or the time my other great-grandfather punched out a young man on the steps of Saint Patrick’s Cathedral on Miami Beach, or the time my Aunt whacked my Uncle with a croquet mallet over some alleged cheating. But I think that a highlight reel of antics and hijinks is a fitting backdrop for my life in Miami, because above all else this city is for me an unending wealth of stories, strangeness, and inspiration.
I was born Christmas Day 1992, at Jackson Memorial Hospital, and the only time I’ve ever wanted to leave the city was when Hurricane Irma sweated me out with 90+ degree weather and no AC for two weeks. My formative experiences as a writer and lover of stories can be traced back to five years of summer theater camp at the Coconut Grove Playhouse. Though the weather was more accommodating then, as a young kid who had to munch on saltines to keep from overheating, I greatly appreciated having refuge from the sun in the cool, dark world of light and magic on stage.
Given that Miami is the only city I’ve truly known, reflecting on my connection is almost as daunting as reflecting on my entire identity. So I went to my parents to ask them for advice, and they quickly went off-topic to stories of the 1914 Boggs murder/arson that occurred right near my grandfather’s house, and about the time a bird violently and messily died in the bungalow my mother was renting, and how the painters she hired were far too experienced at dealing with bloodstains. For architects, the story of Miami is told in the houses, the progression from Vizcaya to the White Boxes causing such controversy in the Grove now. For botanists, the story is told in the change of the natural world, from swamp to sprawl. For me, all of this is one great mine of the richest narrative I could have ever hoped to be born into.
I Actually Wanted to know More about Lulu
Lulu once ate a bee, had her face swell up like a shar-pei, and had to be taken to the dog ER.