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12 Signs You Grew Up in Kendall

Kendall seems like every other suburb in America: a bunch of chain restaurants, shopping plazas, and gated residential communities. Recently, though, Kendall is being noticed for its local bands and gastropubs. Just last year, a county commissioner even tried to rebrand the area of West Kendall as "West End." Seriously.

Kendallites roll their eyes at the hype because everyone needs to stop trying to make Kendall happen. It has never been cool to be from Kendall, and it probably never will be. Besides, there are already way too many people driving around here.

Yet buried beneath the self-deprecating jabs about our hood lies a complicated pride. Growing up in Kendall means you belong to a wacky suburban wonderland where people jump on the hoods of their cars in road rage and whip out guns when dogs poop on lawns. There’s no point fighting it; the geographic isolation will change you. 

Here are the 12 signs you grew up in Kendall:
12. Birthday parties were either at Kendall Ice Arena or Super Wheels
Kids from Coral Gables always held their birthday parties at Venetian Pool. But if you're from Kendall, you know there were only two places you went for a birthday party: the Kendall Ice Arena and Super Wheels. Whether you were gliding on ice or polished wood floors, the dread of wearing smelly used skates loomed over every weekend celebration.
11. You've devoured too many tequeños and cachitos from Don Pan
Those little deditos of white cheese and pressed croissant ham sandwiches were your favorite. You'd run into the store, jab your fingers at the glass, and keep demanding more. Everyone knows you can never eat just one, but you probably shouldn't eat five. 
10. Your mom has had one too many at Blue Martini at Town & Country
There aren't a lot of places to go out in Kendall. Your mom and all of her friends have always loved Blue Martini. She's always back before 9 p.m. and swears she doesn't get drunk. But you know something is up when you still haven't cleaned your room but mom won't stop kissing you and telling you how much she loves you. 
9. You've run into O.J. Simpson at least once
Right now, O.J. Simpson is sitting in jail in Nevada. But before he was sentenced in 2008, the former footballer ran his errands around Kendall. He lived at 9450 SW 112th St., and on any given day, you could find him pumping gas beside your mom's minivan at the Chevron on Kendall Drive just before the Don Shula Expressway. Your mom would hiss at you for staring.
8. The Everglades are basically your backyard
Tourists from all the over world fly to Miami to take photos with alligators in the swamp. It never made sense. For you, the Everglades was just a 20-minute car ride away, and riding your bikes around Shark Valley was something you did whenever a relative came to visit.    
7. A strawberry milkshake at Norman Bros. was the ultimate reward 
You'd happily let your parents drag you to Norman Bros. any day for groceries — as long as they made sure to stop by the drinks counter first. Time stopped once that strawberry milkshake was in your hands. Of course you drank way too quickly and got brain freeze, but it was always worth it. 
6. You've rolled down the big hill at Tropical Park 
It didn't matter that your parents explained that "the big hill" in the middle of Tropical Park was manmade and not a real hill. By Miami standards, it was Mount Everest. During family picnics, you and your cousins would slip away and race to the top. Then you'd take turns daring one another to roll down it. You'd get so dizzy you thought you'd puke, and then you'd return to the picnic covered in dirt and grass stains.
5. You got excited every time you drove through horse country
The strange two-mile stretch of stables and agricultural land from Bird Road to Sunset Drive near the Turnpike always seemed so out of place in Kendall. But every time you looked out the window of your mom's car, you got excited to see people riding horses to Winn-Dixie like cowboys in the Wild West. 
4. You were born at Baptist Hospital
If you were born in Miami, only a handful of hospitals could have handled your delivery. So not everyone who was born at Baptist Hospital is from Kendall. However, almost everyone from Kendall was delivered in a birthing suite at the West Kendall hospital. 3. You never actually bought anything at the Dadeland Mall food court 
While mom was at Macy's and dad was at Brookstone, you followed the smell of grease and lard to the food court. The hardest part was figuring out which vendor to choose: Chick-fil-A, the Chinese restaurant, the Argentine one. There were too many options. Fortunately, each one had hired a kind man or woman to hand out samples. After a few laps around the food court, you had a handful of toothpicks and a full stomach and wallet. 
2. You've gotten high at Santa's Enchanted Forest 
You go to Santa's Enchanted Forest now and see the packs of high-school kids moving from ride to ride. You catch them staring at the light display in awe, terrified after trying to figure out the maze of mirrors, and downing funnel cake so fast they're covered in powdered sugar. You sigh because that was you once. Ah, the circle of life. 
1. You lost a quarter of your childhood stuck in traffic
Traffic is bad in Miami, but it's especially nightmarish in Kendall. Parents made sure to leave 30 minutes early to allow for rush-hour traffic traveling east in the morning — even if you were driving just a few miles to school. In the afternoons, you were once again trapped in the stop-and-go heading west. Sunset Drive and Kendall Drive were the worst. The sun was somehow always in your eyes. You've repressed memories of your parents having a nervous breakdown in the car on the Palmetto or Dolphin Expressway. 

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