We’re standing at JAX airport watching all the passengers filing by us, coming in from who knows where, some being greeted, some not, most on their phones. I scan each face as they turn the corner, not quite able to make out features from a distance but knowing I’d recognize her walk. Thom asks, “Is that her?” “No.” “Is that her?” “No.” “You know, it’s been over a year. Maybe she’s changed.” “No. I’ll know her when I see her.”
Then, around the corner, I see her coming towards me. Even now, when they’re all grown and away from me, the sight of any of my kids reminds me that some serious pieces of my heart are out there, walking around, most likely oblivious to that fact. But I see my only daughter after being apart for over a year, and suddenly my heart fills back up.
I move forward, talking to myself, “There she is. There’s my girl. There’s my girl” I wrap her in my arms, breathe in the familiar scent of her, feel her skin against my lips — utter completeness that I didn’t know I was missing until just that second. And I have perma-grin!
And so we spend the next four days at the beach, with a couple side trips to the Daytona Flea Market, some meals out, movies in, and more beach. The days fly by just like I knew they would, but I make sure to fill them with whatever she wants. I hope she had a good time. I think she did.
More pics here and a video here!
It’s hot here. 90’s the last few weeks with about the same humidity levels. It rains almost every afternoon; a heavy, tropical rain that causes steam to rise from the blacktop and leaves the air even heavier with moisture. It makes your skin soft and your hair and nails grow. It fogs your glasses when you come inside. It makes you wonder how people live in this climate without air conditioning. It doesn’t last all that long; a month of high 80’s, a few weeks of 90’s. But it’s definitely stifling, causing you to move from home to car to store to car to home without spending too much time in between.
When I think about that, I remember where I came from, moved away from. Winters in northern Michigan last from about November through March and often into April. And I’m talking the cold, wet, windy winter that seeps into your joints and chills you to the bone. The never-ending bleakness of days upon days of little or no sunshine; late mornings and early evenings of darkness that make you long for summer when the sun doesn’t set until 10:00 pm. But to get to that summer you have to survive the muddy, rainy weeks of spring with the dirty snow piled up along the curbs trying to melt without sunshine, waiting for warmer days to finally rid itself. Summer begins, at least according to the calendar, June 21st and ends on September 21st. And sometimes, in northern Michigan, it actually does. Much of the time, though, summer begins and ends in bouts of 70- to 90-degree weeks, with cooler, rainy weather filling in the spaces making it virtually impossible to arrange for outdoor events without a backup plan. Fall, my most favorite Michigan season, rewards us with an amazing array of color and crispness that brings folks out for walks and drives, knowing that soon enough they’ll be forced back inside for the duration of another long, cold winter season.
Which brings me back to late summer in Florida. We don’t spend much time outdoors unless we’re at the beach; thankfully it’s only a few miles away. Mornings are best. People are out biking, walking their dogs or exercising, often before 8:00 a.m. But after 9:00 or so you’re forced back inside to the a/c. Evenings aren’t bad once the sun goes down, which is usually around 8:00 p.m. here. Most restaurants along the beach have outdoor seating where the ocean breezes keep you comfortable. Music generally fills the air and lines of pelicans fly overhead making their way to wherever it is they spend their nights.
During the day we ask ourselves how long we can stand the heat. Everyone mentions the humidity whenever they come in from outdoors. We are constantly in awe of the powerful and quick storms that move in and move out leaving steam rising from the parking lots. And then we’ll look at each other and remember: It could be worse. It HAS been worse. This is our ‘winter’ weather. This is what we have to endure to live and enjoy the remaining 10 beautiful months here. And anyone who has moved south from those long winters unequivocally agrees that it’s MUCH easier getting through this than it is getting through the seemingly endless months of the dry, windy, bone-chilling winter that forced us to look southward to sunshine, warmth, and the ocean.