What 2022 has taught me so far:
Keep your friends close and your wallet closer.
Yes, you read that right. I spent this past weekend in Miami with two of my best friends and…
Before ever setting foot in “the 305,” we were scammed out of $135 attempting to purchase Steve Aoki tickets from someone selling theirs on Instagram—or so we thought. Out $45 each, we decided that the concert was still worth going to—another $60 each spent on legitimate tickets.
Tip #1: Let’s just leave purchasing tickets from someone online EVER again in 2021. The extra $20 is worth knowing you’re secure.
Thus, Friday arrived and the three of us left our respective-Florida-homes with high anticipation for the weekend. Jamie and I arrived first, grabbing dinner with her uncle, before meeting up with Koral at the hotel to prepare for Steve Aoki.
We caught up, sipped seltzers, listened to music and took polaroid pictures while we got ready for the show, which was to be held at “Story Nightclub” in South Beach, Miami. We called an Uber and put our hands on top of each other’s—making a pact to have a ‘night straight from the movies’—before entering the three-story nightclub.
We take it all in.
Neon lights illuminating each room of the club. Those rich enough to order bottle service were provided their own sector overlooking the dancefloor; velvet ropes blocked them off from us poor-folk.
The dance floor was that sleek, black tile and had silver flecks in it. Leading the pack, I made my way down the three-stories of stairs and onto the shiny dancefloor. Something about it felt forbidden, and the three of us were geeked we had made it down there.
We decided we needed to each take a shot of tequila and have a seltzer in-hand for when Aoki came on stage—which, we later found out would not be until 1:30 a.m.
At the bar, Koral orders three shots of tequila—not caring about what brand. We get the receipt before we get the shots; $78.
“Well, ladies,” Koral said. “Welcome to Miami!”
We throw the shots back and I force myself not to spit back up $26 worth of tequila.
My turn to buy. I lean up to the bar and ask what the cheapest option is in terms of “drinks,” and not “shots.” She looks at me in almost total disgust and says, “water. Nine dollars.”
“Cool,” I said. “We’ll just take three seltzers; I don’t care what flavor.”
$54 later and I knew we needed to make friends with some of the bottle-service people—ASAP.
Fast-forward and I’ve managed to do that with some people who were actively looking for more people to join them. They were nice enough and from London, so they had cool accents! A little on the older side and were celebrating an old man’s birthday. I remember thinking, I hope I’m hip enough to go to Steve Aoki when I’m 70.
Unfortunately for our taste buds, though, our rich, English friends were drinking Jack Daniels and the only mixing options were a variety of juices—orange, cranberry, lemonade and something, I assumed, was grape. Gross, but got the job done.
Tip #2: Stop drinking nasty drinks just because they are free.
Steve came out, finally, so we migrated back to the dancefloor. Feeling pretty good—I bobbed along to the music before needing to use the restroom and dragging my friends with me to stand guard. It was shortly after our bathroom break that I realized my phone was missing.
Thinking, surely, I left it in the bathroom, we went back to check and were promptly screamed at by the lady handing out paper-towels.
“Okay, Zoey, it’s fine,” Koral reminded me. “All that matters is we have you.”
I knew she was right. I had said those same words to her a not three months ago when she lost her phone during a different girl’s weekend in Orlando—no, we do not have a good track record.
Feeling fine and knowing the phone situation would get handled, we migrated back into the crowd to enjoy the rest of the show. I was still in my head a bit—racking my brain trying to remember the last time I’d been on the device. Whatever, I thought. It seemed like right there, in that moment, a random girl came up to me and notified me that my purse was unzipped.
I looked down to zip it, only to realize my wallet had been snatched. Now we had a real problem. I had no ID to prove I was of legal age, no debit card to pay for being legally aged and no phone to call or do anything about it.
Fast-forward and Friday night ended with Koral saying, “well, it was a night out of a movie but not the kind of movie I had in mind.”
That night I was ushered into a room of at least 30 other people who had been robbed, I never did get to file a report. The next morning, the bank wouldn’t shut down my card without proof of ID, the nightclub hadn’t sorted their lost and found, and I was informed my phone was not insured. Instead, I owed $800 on a device I wouldn’t get back.
I was ready to cry and drive home with no navigation. Jamie and Koral were trying to lighten my mood with “all that matters is…” statements, and Ferrero Rocher chocolates. I wanted to scream at both of them in different moments for their incessant positivity, but refrained, knowing they were simply trying to help.
Tip #3: Bite your tongue more often
We managed to lift our spirits slowly but surely, starting with the chocolates and a stuffed unicorn we named “Story.” We called the Clevelander Pool Lounge and explained to a kind man named Dan the situation at hand. He turned our moods completely around.
“I am so sorry,” he said. “We just want you to have a good time. If the bouncer gives you any trouble, just come ask for me and I’ll walk you in.”
I told Dan I loved him and we headed back to the hotel to get prepared for our bikini debut. My father, another man named Dan, added to the happiness when he said he’d cover some rounds of drinks for us to help with the fact my debit card was M.I.A.
Tip #4: Ask for help!
The rest of a trip was a success, despite never finding any of my missing belongings.
Koral, Jamie and I sat at a large, round table in Starbucks on Sunday morning, drinking our coffee before leaving Miami in our rear views. Koral, a former dorm resident assistant and sucker for conversation starters, suggested we should state our “roses,” “buds,” and “thorns,” from this weekend.
A rose, she explained, is a highlight or good moment. A bud is something that has potential to turn into a rose, or something you’re looking forward to, and, a thorn is a low moment from the trip.
Some thorns thrown around included the obvious loss of items, how expensive drinks were, few cute men, cloudy weather and a bouncer who yelled at me for laughing when really, I was hiccupping.
Some buds included another girl’s weekend soon for my birthday, cute photos to hang up and/or post, and the “better luck next time” mentality.
The bouncer yelling at me ended up being a rose too, because, honestly, it was hilarious. Both dan’s were roses, the kind people who shared their alcohol with us were roses, my unicorn, Story, earned a rose. The carbonara from a random restaurant we swore was Mexican cuisine, Jamie trying to speak Spanish, me coordinating a dance contest at the Clevelander, Koral secretly wiping out and not telling us, among countless more inside jokes that I cannot share publicly.
The point is this: 2022 was quick to start teaching me its lessons, but, the most important one of all is to value your true friends, your personal roses. Had I not been with the two of them, my weekend would have ended very, very differently.
Tip #5: Keep your friends close and your wallet closer… mostly so you can go on more trips with your friends