July 5th, 2020 was a game-changer for me. I call it a Covid19 related circumstance that blindsided me! Well, it was a situation that I had to re-group fast and figure out “stuff!” Little did I realize that these inconveniences would soon lead to my best summer ever.
Pandemic Travel Adjustments
After 3 weeks of reorganizing and regrouping I knew it was time to head out of town and spend some time with family! 6 grandboys were waiting for “Poppy” in New York. I thought I would visit for a week. Well, I stayed for 9! And, oh what a wonderful 9 weeks it was. And, it certainly doesn’t hurt that I can work remotely from anywhere designing websites and working on The Suncoast Post.
It was my first time flying since the Pandemic started and all went well. The Tampa Airport was spotless with all regulations in place. Frontier Airlines did a fabulous job taking everyone’s temperature and the plane which holds about 240 passengers had about 30 on board. I felt safe and comfortable.
When I got to New York, I had to quarantine for 2 weeks which was pretty easy. My daughter and her hubby have 3 boys ages 7, 12 and 13. In this house it’s all about sports whether they are playing sports or watching sports. It’s the end of July so there is no schoolwork going on and the boys played hard all day, stayed up late and sleeping late in the morning. It’s all about baseball during the summer for the 7 and 12-year-old playing in different leagues. Unfortunately, the 13-year-old broke his leg early on in the summer and he has been pretty much out of commission. I never thought I would say it, but thankfully there are video games to play. A pool and basketball court in the back yard certainly help. We did lots of swimming and the kids constantly challenged this old man to a basketball game and in the basement, we played hockey on our knees. Oh boy, was I aching. And, oh did we eat. Just about every night my son-in-law, Rob made a fabulous family BBQ. It was so nice to sit down at a table and eat as a family.
In August we had a big family celebration for my “X” (she’s my really good friend). It was her 70th birthday. It warmed my heart that my kids, all of the grandboys and my sister and brother in law were there to celebrate Sandra’s birthday. I can’t remember the last time we were all together. It was an all weekend celebration. Great food, lots of games, storytelling, laughing and maybe even an alcoholic beverage or two. And there was a special dinner celebration at an outstanding restaurant where we ate outside with social distancing and masks. That’s the way it’s done in New York. Everyone wears masks. Having 6 grandboys sleeping over together for several nights was a special Poppy treat!
The first four weeks spent on Long Island were oh so wonderful. I learned so much about Aidan, Shea, and Luke. Time goes by so fast. We had so many great conversations and I know how much they love their Poppy! It’s amazing that we hardly ever went out except for a few times where we did outside dining. In NY it’s all about wearing a mask. Well, school has started, and the boys are doing hybrid, so they are in school 3 days and home 2 days. My daughter Lindsay is a teacher and I consider her a hero! She is back in the classroom full-time teaching 4th grade and there certainly are challenges every day. I am so proud of her.
Four weeks went by so fast. On to Brooklyn! Long Island and Brooklyn are like going to 2 different countries. Completely different. I took the Long Island Railroad to Brooklyn. The train was immaculate and empty. Hardly anyone was traveling. The few folks on board had their masks on. I walked about 2 miles from the train station to my son and daughter in laws new home that they moved into a couple of weeks before the Pandemic started. On my walk, the first thing I noticed is that even walking the streets just about everyone was wearing a mask.
Now, it is certainly a different culture in Brooklyn. We walked everywhere, masks on. Every store had a sign “no mask-no service” and there was a limit on how many people could be in the store. There was outside dining only at the restaurants and I was very comfortable. We ate out a lot and I got to try so many different types of ethnic foods.
They live in a brownstone that was built in 1904. So much history in this building. On 9/11 we were on their rooftop balcony and were able to see the “lights” on the tower in lower Manhattan. It was breathtaking. The boys, 4, 9 and 11 had so much fun with me. We played hockey in the basement (like Long Island) hung out in the backyard and we loved playing “left, right, center” and “Akinator!” It’s amazing how the two older boys, Simon and Jonah know their way around the streets of Brooklyn. They took me everywhere. Even the 4-year-old, Tobias already knows so much about Brooklyn.
A very special part of my Brooklyn visit was being able to watch the New York Islanders play the Tampa Bay Lightning with my son Bryan. Every game was a nail biter. We had so much fun hanging out together. My daughter-in-law, Yael who is a very special person in my life thought it was just so cool that Bry and I could do this. We also suffered through another opening day loss by the NY Jets. Yael and I had some special times doing “lunch” together and just chatting away!
After three weeks it was time to head back to Long Island where I spent another glorious 2 weeks. It’s a little different with the boys in school. I had breakfast with them every day before school, hung out with them after school and at night we just talked, and I just fell deeper I love with these boys.
What can I say? The experience was fabulous. Everyone welcomed me with open arms, and I cherished every moment being in New York. If all goes well, I will do it again next year. Now I understand the meaning of “snowbirds!” I am so blessed. What started as a difficult situation in early July turned out to be the best summer ever!
Photos by Sande Caplin