We are learning as a society that extended shutdowns of communal spaces lead people to strange and unexpected behavior. We, for example, drove to Florida.
It’s twenty hours on the road, more or less, from the Upper West Side to Grandma and Grandpa’s house down here; they are up north, finishing the vaccination cycle, and the house, which has sat unexpectedly empty this winter, needed some company. So we packed up—two adults, two growing children with overstuffed bookbags, one dog, clothes and supplies and snacks and four laptops—and, nestled into our compact wagon, hit the highway for a day and a half.
I am happy to report that with good kids, good internet connections, new tires and an extraordinarily calm Labradoodle, the drive was not a big deal. With a nice overnight stay in Richmond, we almost enjoyed it (sort of). And it was totally worth it: so far, we’ve missed out on a cold snap, many days of below-freezing temperatures, and roughly two feet of snow, in exchange for sun, space and swimming. (Although Eli is a bit bummed to have missed the snow, which, fair.)
This would have been our winter break destination in normal times, flying down for a week with the family. It’s nice to anniversary the trip, even in modified fashion. Parts of it almost feel normal.
Of course, reality is everywhere, from eating every meal at home to our family drive to the curbside covid testing center on our fifth day in town. (I can only imagine how my kids will reminisce: “Remember the year we drove to Florida in the pandemic? And then we had to get tested, and we rolled our windows down outside some clinic, and we brought the dog for some reason, and all the nurses wanted to pet him, and then Dad wiped Yogi’s head off with an alcohol prep pad in case they got covid on him?”)
We have to go home soon, back to the reality of New York rhythms, apartment life, in-person schooling, and the like. It’s been nice having what amounted to a four-week vacation surrounding work and school, though, and the temporary suspension of our daily urban landscape. Until we head back, though, we’ll be fully enjoying our time in the south. Because, as we now know firsthand, wintering in warm weather while covering one’s responsibilities remotely turns out to be a pretty good plan of action.