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Summer in Florida

     This is our fourth summer in Florida- a number that amazes me.  I still don't feel at home here, although  I know my way around.  I don't feel completely out of place in the supermarket, but I have this suspicion that everyone knows I'm not from here, and they know that they don't know me.  That special kind of paranoia belongs to the homesick, and even while I acknowledge its foolishness, I still feel it.
Summers- I may have mentioned this before- are the worst. 
     It's partly an issue of comfort, or rather, of discomfort.  The long summer days are hot and sticky, the bugs are ravenous and abundant, the plants are vindictive with thorns and poison, and the air itself is attempting to decompose your body 37% faster than air in dryer climes.*  If there is a spring or pool to soak yourself in, it's fine, pleasant, even, because there are no ticks in the water, and you can usually avoid mosquitoes under the water.  To Florida's credit, there are any number of absolutely gorgeous springs around to enjoy, and the alligator and water moccasins tend to avoid those areas because there are too many snacks people.  I am not crediting Florida's beaches, because in the middle of summer they are very unfriendly places where the humidity sometimes jumps to 698%** and the water contains bacteria that eats your flesh.  The lakes are of no use in the summer unless you love extra-close alligator sightings, warm algae-filled water, and brain-eating amoebas.
     I generally find myself stuck inside more than I like, and I get the kind of cabin fever that I have only previously experienced during the long winters in Vermont right after Josh and I got married.  There are solutions to my problems, but they involve two things that are in short supply- friends and funding.  I could drive to a spring right now, pack a lunch, and go, but without company, it would be a short and stressful trip.  I have a two and a half year old who wants to be out of the water, and two boys who want to be all in the water, and when I have my two oldest chickens with me, they are off and about, or being enlisted to help.  We do this, but it's too far and too chaotic to do often.  Our city pool is strangely pricey, and while I have friends that have offered their pools, I don't have the kind of relationship with anyone here to invite myself over.  In my experience, there is very little (socially) that is worse than being an unwanted guest. 
     I have made some wonderful friends here.  Through MOPS and homeschooling and the school and the library, we have met some awesome people.  Summers, though, are a chaotic and disjointed time for relationships, and that is so much more obvious here than in California, mostly because my day to day life stays almost entirely the same throughout the year.  I think maybe that is the other, large part of why I find the summers so oppressive here- what I am used to happening does not happen here.  There are no rotating weeks of camps and old friends, no beach vacations, no summer holidays with family, no staff kids and beach trips with groups of friends, no pool, no extended visits to Chico, no long visits with Rosie at my house, no occasional jaunts to the Valley, no swimming and dinner and movies with Aunt Marlene and Uncle Tony, no cousins. no family, nothing but a summer of solitude and sameness.
     In the grand scheme of things, this is nothing.  The big picture shows me a thousand lifetimes of all of these good things, with Company and connections that are better than I have ever experienced.  One look reveals a happy home with healthy children and a joyful marriage, all of us well-fed*** and clothed and all of our physical needs met and more than met.  We are safe and we have a home, and I know I sound ungrateful and whiny.  Still, as I strive for a thankful heart and a peaceful contentment, summer is hard in Florida for me.
     This fourth summer is dramatically different because we don't have Bowden and Lucy here.  We were invited to send them up to Vermont for five weeks- weeks of the Lake House, weeks with cousins and aunts and uncles and grandparents, camps and church activities- and they are up in the air-conditioned New England summer.****   We all miss them, and not having my two big kids makes my life harder, which I expected, and less fun, which I didn't expect.  We also have way less arguing, and that's pretty nice.  Jack and Miles are making use of the multitude of churches here and are attending a VBS almost every week, and even going to camp the week before Bowden and Lucy come home.
   Four summers in Florida, and God is as good here as He ever was and is and will be.  Ten summers in California, or ten summers in Florida, there is no change in His ability to make this ugly thing that is my attitude beautiful.  I don't love the process, but I'm glad that it will happen.

 *If that sounds scientific at all, its not.  I'm complaining, and numbers always make me feel like I'm actually saying something worth listening to.  For instance, I once read a statistic in my driver's ed course that said that 87% of all motorcycle riders will have a serious or fatal crash- I quote this all of the time.  This is twenty year old information, who knows if its still true, but it's the numbers I need to make a point about why a person should never ride a motorcycle.  I will then follow up with some anecdotal evidence, but the numbers come first.
**Total fiction.
***Some of us very well-fed.
****Still tons of bugs.  Come on, East Coast.


lisa d said…
I wish that I could stop by the log house on my way to anywhere! I love you!
Abigail said…
I read this ages ago when you posted it and meant to comment but didn't know how and never did.

I'm sorry you're in a place that feels so foreign.

I'm glad you love so well wherever you are, and I'm glad for your posts that are at once transparent about hardships and funny, to boot-- your perfect mixture of honesty and self-awareness.

I wish WE had a pool to invite you to and a jet to fly you here, even though the pool'd be frozen over by now. Hot chocolate's almost as nice, anyway, though, right?

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