We have a map of places to be in our normal life: Richmond, VA where I spent 70% of my life and my wife and I raised our family and where our younger son and daughter live; Jersey City, NJ where we are living in a corporate riverfront high-rise apartment; Dodge City, KS where we are lucky to have a mother-in-law suite in the basement of our older daughter’s home; and, Neptune Beach, FL where we can stay in the lower half of our duplex there. Since January 2020, we’ve been in all those places for some time, and also briefly visited our older son and his wife in the Alexandria, VA area while driving south… On Friday, March 20, we left Jersey City, heading for Neptune Beach, where we are now.
What work I do, I do from home, and last week my wife’s company decided to transition its employees to a work from home program just prior to New Jersey “shutting down.” As that change set in, we considered our options and decided to relocate to Florida, primarily because it offers a more socially distanced lifestyle than high rise living in Jersey City, and a smaller SARS CoV2 footprint than the New York City metro area. At 60 plus years, and in decent health, we’re not too fearful of the effects that virus might have on us, but sickness in general is no fun, and even in our “middle age” we prefer fun over the drudgery of life with a viral infection, plus, just weeks ago we were in Dodge City with our daughter and her family that includes two little boys that seem to ooze snot during the winter, and their sharing had already become evident and to add the possibility of Covid 19 on top of the Kansas Kid Virus, well we just thought it reasonable to relocate, plus working from the Jersey City kitchen table did not seem quite as enticing as working from the two office spaces in our Neptune Beach home.
As we started our trip south, we received word that the beach has been closed. Neptune Beach, Jax Beach and others in the area are shut down – that was not good news after spending a week inside our Jersey apartment and envisioning sunrise beach walks just a thousand miles away. And at first, I admit I did not believe it – you gotta be kidding. I know the beach is crowded in season, but in March, seriously, I just didn’t believe there was a problem socially distancing oneself on the northern Florida beaches; sure maybe in the Keys where the beaches are just a bit wider than your front door, but we got way wide beaches in north Florida. Wrong, wrong, wrong, the Mayor closed our beach to everyone, UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE. In the not so famous but beloved words of our grandson while playing Tic Tac Toe, “Dang it! You blocked me.”
After fourteen hours of driving, we arrived in Neptune Beach to a Twilight Zone kind of scene; almost everyplace where there should be people – closed. Parking lots empty. Stores dark. I half expected zombies to stop us looking for meat to eat. Even Ginger’s, closed; and police tape across the walkways to the beachfront. Unbelievable.
But we are here at the beach, and this morning, Monday the 23rd, we’re happy to exchange our coats and scarves and city winds (and today’s snows in the New York metro area) for shorts and t-shirts, sun and abandoned beach breezes as we shake our heads at how life has changed in several short weeks. We’ve created our politically incorrect Wuhan Protocol, i.e., a call list in case either of us becomes seriously ill with Covid 19, and made list of in network healthcare providers, and found perhaps the last thermometer in the universe at the Beaches CVS. We will have to start rationing morning coffee until we can get by a Starbucks and buy a pound or two of their Veranda blend coffee beans, otherwise, we’re set for at least two or three more days… We got to the store just after all the five month minimum supply hoarders left – missed finding that hand sanitizer by “that” much.
Thanks for checking in and I’ll update this saga sometime after I pump up our bicycle tires and weed the brick patio…
Music by: Razbaque Dirge, “Venture” used under CC 4.0 By-Share Alike license – music presented without edits.