Mitch and I drove to Florida the last week of February 2021; our destination was Key Largo. No camper this time, just the truck, us, and our Italian Greyhound, Daniel. This visit would be our third year in Key Largo. We rent the same beautiful house each year. But, 2021 would be slightly different, and I am ready to publicly reveal the changes when Buffalo Vickie (germaphobe) turned into Florida Vickie after getting vaccinated.
Before 2013, we stayed in Summerland Key, 24 miles North of Key West. Key West was a daily destination for me; it was like Mardi Gras every day! An abundance of activity choices matched my “need to be busy all the time.” Key West never sleeps! Key Largo is way more chill; it’s an acquired taste for restless, impatient people like me.
Year 1 in Key Largo
Year 1: Mitch fished almost every day while I waited for him to return. I have about a two-hour sitting on the boat attention span, whereas Mitch has a 7-plus hour attention span. Fishing is not a sport for me; I am one of those people who think it hurts the fish. Before anybody gives me all the reasons it doesn’t hurt, I have heard all of it from Mitch, Many Times! I’m not sure if it hurts the fish, but if I try to empathize and put my feet in the fish’s fins, I think of: How can a hook in my mouth not hurt? OUCH!
YEAR 2 IN KEY LARGO
Year 2: Our trip coincided with the new “Covid outbreak.” One of my first blogs talked about escaping from the Keys. 2020, filled with frightening news and heightening fear, resulting in a quick exit back to Buffalo. Our travels included apocalyptic toilets, enough peanut butter sandwiches to last 26 hours, and vats of cold coffee.
Year 3 in Key Largo
Year 3: We just returned from our third year. After one year of doing nothing in Buffalo, due to Covid, the bar for my activity level was extremely low. I did not care that Mitch spent a lot of time on the boat because I was now an experienced do-nothing kind of girl. Going for a walk, writing, eating, and grocery shopping were my goals. And I loved every minute of it!
But a change happened when we crossed the Florida state line.
After getting Vaccinated
Buffalo Vickie had not eaten outdoors at a restaurant in close to one year. There was an exception on my Birthday – Thank you, Phyllis – but otherwise nothing. Our first stop in Florida was my Dad’s house in Boca Raton. Our second stop was lunch at his club. Outdoors, no masks at the table. It was hard breaking the ice and feeling comfortable eating out. My Dad and I are fully vaccinated; Mitch still had antibodies from the virus. Yet, I felt a bit hesitant.
That afternoon our cousins Lisa and Doug came for a visit. They are both doctors and vaccinated, so if it was OK with them, it was OK with me. But I hadn’t been that close to others in quite some time.
That evening we met our friends Tami and Rich for dinner outside. This restaurant was quite busy, and I was very nervous. Was the person next to me coughing? Isn’t that table too close? Are we actually sharing the nacho chips?
But that is all it took for the desensitization therapy to start working. By the time we were in Key Largo the next day, I was comfortable eating outdoors. A week later, I was using public bathrooms.
I did not recognize the new me! Was it because I was vaccinated, probably. Am I like my kids who say, “So Over this!;” probably. Were we stupid, maybe?
All I know is that now Florida Vickie needs to morph back into Buffalo Vickie this week. I may need some mediation or resolution therapy to go back.
I loved when we rented the house near Key West- the town that never sleeps. And before Covid, that was right up my alley and perhaps the reason that I was not a fan of Largo on year one. But this year, I loved Key Largo, and it turns out that having low expectations for activity was just the right mindset. It also turned out that I found so much to do, with my new frame of mind, that was outdoors and safe.
Funny how these things go. Not that I am promoting lower your expectations to find the good times. What happened when Buffalo Vickie turned into Florida Vickie is that I realized that perhaps, just chillin a bit will open the door to new opportunities.
Eating in Restaurants
PS – Last night – April 16th – I finally went inside a restaurant, in Buffalo, with my friends Sheryl and Ellen. Mitch is not going inside restaurants yet; I am the new vaccinated rebel!