Updated: Feb 22, 2022
I know in years to come we will all be asked to recall what life was like during the pandemic of 2020. For us it has been truly unforgettable not least because we faced the same emotional turmoil as countless other families across the globe, but also because we were due to make an international move the very week that the western world shut down, borders were closed and life was unexpectedly put on pause.
I write this with the benefit of hindsight now knowing that everything turned out to be okay but at the time as I watched the team of moving experts carefully wrap up our Miami life in brown paper and pack it all into neat numbered boxes I remember thinking I have no idea when or where I shall see those numbered boxes again, filled with mostly sentimental momentos and a collection of vintage photoframes and scented candles. I'm not one for collecting stuff but memories yes, and probably the main reason I fell in love with photography. For me, a photograph is a feeling. Capture how you felt in the moment and you will never forget it.
My husband's company then confirmed our original travel plans were now postponed indefinitely, or until such a time it would be declared safe to catch a long haul flight to a city currently also in a state of lockdown. So there we were, out of our Miami home with nowhere to go. We began in earnest searching online making contact with temporary accommodation only to be knocked back at every turn due to the Mayor of Miami placing a lockdown on all 'temporary lets' and imposing a closure on all hotels. Time and time again I was referred to a list of hotels suitable for displaced families. Were we really displaced?! I guess in theory we were but we always felt that no matter how bad our current situation might have felt we were still incredibly fortunate to have our health and our income intact. We were always going to be okay, and with that comfort blanket wedged firmly in my mind I then began to treat the subsequent few months as an adventure as much as I could for the children. The older girls had already said emotional goodbyes to their school life and therefore needed some positivity injected upon their horizons.
We bypassed all the rules in place and found ourselves renting a little house with a beautiful garden 5 minutes walk from the beach. We had only what we could load in the car which after fitting in all the baby essentials left us with 2 suitcases - this was back in March, it is now July and we are still living out of those same 2 suitcases but that is for another post on another day. Needless to say I am now a true advocate of minimalist living.
My memories of our weeks and months in lockdown are for the most part heavenly. We had no idea what the future held but in that moment in time it was just us, we had nowhere to go nowhere to be and no one to see. My 6 month old was spoilt having everyone at home all day every day. The weather was sublime as it always is in Miami, the girls continued to 'see' their friends and teachers every day through home school learning and we swiftly found our new rhythm. It was slower, involved less clock watching, less racing around and more time to just be. We celebrated two birthdays in lockdown one with a home cinema in the garden and the other with cake under our tikihut during a thunderous rainstorm. Torrin mastered the art of crawling, Layla earned her 4th Honor Roll award of 4th grade which led to a surprise emotional visit from her teachers on our doorstep one day. Amaia proved what we often suspected that she is just as distracted at school as she is at home. I would often find her doing a headstand whilst her class was online, or playing with her toys just out of sight of her teacher. We ate outside together every mealtime, we watched movies every night, and we even bought a kayak to explore the waterways. We watched the sunrise from the decking in the morning and the sky turn from bright blue to pale pink late late afternoon. We watched herons dive for fish, we did art every day, swam in the pool, collected freshly fallen mangoes from our neighbour's tree, and reconnected with friends and family in different timezones over many virtual happy hours.
Life moved on but the pandemic is far from over sadly, we made the decision to leave as reports of a second wave were surfacing. This was not the farewell to life in America we had planned and I'll always feel sad thinking about those friends we made but were unable to say goodbye to in person one last time, but we will see each other again of that I am sure. Leaving Miami for the last time to catch our flight from Dallas was emotional, as we drove over the Venetian Causeway one last time I looked out at the palm trees passing by, rolled down all the windows to let the warm air breeze pass through us which is usually a big no no as A/C is your best friend, but I wanted for us all to embrace what we were saying goodbye to. I looked over my shoulder and any sadness I felt was lifted at the sight of the greatest souvenir we could possibly take with us. 10 new tiny fingers and 10 tiny toes, his name is Torrin and he will forever be the most unexpected and overwhelmingly happy event that happened to us whilst in America.