Home for the summer: My hot COVID driven Florida summer was first published on My Swiss Story on August 17, 2021.
Home. It’s a funny term. A unique word that can be a noun, adjective, adverb, or verb depending on the context.
The most obvious one being the place you live or raise a family, But it also means the place of origin, or one’s birth country.
So needless to say my kids got a confused look on their faces when I announced quite excitedly that “We are going home!” For them Switzerland is home, but for us (their parents), we still call Florida home.
And after two long years away, we travelled back home to Florida for our summer holidays this year.
My Summer Shenanigans in Florida
Now just so you know, Summer is not the ideal time to visit Florida.
It is hot, like Africa hot. With temperatures already in the high 20’s by early morning and into the mid to high 30’s and even low 40’s by mid day. You basically can’t do much during the day except sweat profusely, stay indoors in the air conditioning or be close to a pool or body of water. The high humidity mixed with the heat makes it feel like you are walking around in a hot sauna all day long. It is oppressive. And yet I lived there happily for 40 years and loved it.
Week 1 of my Summer in Florida
We spent the first week with my parents at their new home in North Florida. It was a little strange to come back home to a totally new place, a new town, new everything. I was a little melancholy at first, I missed the mountains and cooler weather of North Carolina. But it didn’t take long to realize that home is where your family is, regardless of what zip code.
At first I slept a lot. I’m not alone in stating the obvious – the past 18 months have been stressful. Being an expat without immediate family around but yet worried constantly about your family back home in the midst of a pandemic has taken its toll. Add to that the end of school events and the chaos of flying internationally during COVID and I was long overdue for some serious down time.
Luckily there was tons of down time that first week of summer holidays. Along with coffee drinking, home cooked meals, laughing, Olympics, smores, games and puzzles. I reveled in the complete joy of watching my kids spend quality time with their grandparents. It did my heart and soul a world of good to rest and unwind a bit.
Some of the perks of my parents’ new address in North Florida is that they are close to dozens of natural Florida springs. These springs are crystal clear and maintain a year round temperature of 22 degrees. The perfect place to take a dip on a hot summer day.
We spent the second week in Amelia Island on the northeast coast of Florida at a Condo on the beach.
We were blessed with perfect weather that week. You could find us all on the beach following breakfast, playing in the surf, building sandcastles, and collecting seashells and sharks teeth. After lunch we would take a dip in the pool or play games in the condo.
It was during that second week that we started to get nervous about the Covid numbers and the Delta variant creeping up in Florida. Honestly, few people were wearing masks in the stores. And with my kids not able to be vaccinated, we had to make some adjustments to our schedule.
Week 3 of my Summer in Florida
After 2 ½ weeks spent with my family, we travelled to Central Florida, where my husband and I were born and raised. It’s where we were married, it’s where we went to school and had our successful first careers. Needless to say, we have lots of friends and family there.
And yet Central Florida doesn’t feel like home anymore.
I forget each time how chaotic it can be trying to see so many friends and family in one fell swoop. We end up spending large quantities of our time driving from one place to the next, squeezing in short bursts of time with as many people as possible, all while not feeling like you spent quality time with anyone. It sort of takes the fun out of it.
And yet at the same time it was awesome and wonderful to see the people we did get to see. The kids spent time with their other grandparents swimming in their pool and exploring the muggy Florida outdoors.
Orlando also had its share of hiccups; including vaccinated family members that tested positive the day we arrived. Which meant less time with the cousins and plans having to be rearranged yet again.
But we made the most of this sticky (literally and figuratively) situation. Friends and family opened their doors to us, letting us stay in their homes and even throwing a pool party, so we could see many friends at one time (where yes everyone – except our children – were vaccinated).
After our whirlwind tour of Central Florida, we headed down to south Florida where we lived after we were married and prior to moving overseas. It is an adorable beach town with great friends and amazing seafood that I miss dearly. Honestly, I wish we could’ve spent more time there. The vibe is relaxed and there is so much to do and see.
In retrospect, we were glad we went home to Florida this summer, especially given the horrible weather back in Switzerland and the unknown trajectory of this damn pandemic. But we were also glad to be back in our second home of Switzerland, where summer finally arrived and life slowly returned to normal.
Home is a funny word. As an expat my loyalty often feels torn between two places. This summer proved to me that it is OK to call more than one place home. Home is where your heart is and this summer mine was in Florida.