Wednesday, August 02, 2017

Water everywhere, and 4 years without seasons

I have never been in a flood before.  I hate severe weather, particularly lightning, but the idea that water on its own could be such a threat never really crossed my mind.  Yesterday, parts of Miami-Dade county received up to 7 inches of rain in something like 12 hours (local coverage here).

On the drive home to my Miami Beach neighborhood, things didn't seem so bad until I had to actually turn into our little residential area.  There was no easy way to know which way to go, and I chose wrong!  I ended up parking on a slightly higher-lying grassy median (there were several other cars stranded there, too) but did not feel it was safe to get to my house, just two blocks but a small river away.  Water was literally more than a foot deep, pooling in the streets and up against neighboring houses.  

It was still drizzling and I heard distant thunder as I waded the two blocks in my maternity pants and work shoes.  I arrived soaked nearly to the waist and really freaked out by what I had seen, but otherwise unscathed.  Thankfully, our house (and immediate block) is on higher ground, and we had no flooding at all.  But so many people did, including a number of my friends and family.  I haven't read about anyone in the area hurt, which is great (and rather amazing) news.  However, I can imagine the property damage totals will be significant.

I was actually planning on writing a post looking back at the 4 years since we moved here, in the summer of 2013.  I've now racked up four years of almost never being cold, unless it's from overzealous air conditioning.  Annabel claims she remembers living in North Carolina, but I'm pretty sure she's just referring to photos (we moved when she was 16 months).  I feel like it's time to take an objective look at our experience . . . list-style.

Things I love about living here:

1) Being close to family.  This is the #1 reason we are where we are.  While I wish I could also be closer to my parents and sister, most of Josh's entire extended family (including his grandmother) resides in Miami Beach or nearby.  We have frequent family celebrations and I love being able to walk or drive just a short distance for these.

2) My job!  I feel like I started out with a good job but have crafted one that I really love.  I have great coworkers, have great pride in the institution where I work, and have been thrilled about they have allowed me to design a schedule and set of responsibilities that work for me.  I started off at 100% clinical, with 9 half-day sessions each week (1/2 day on Friday to catch up with everything that piles up!).  When I began to feel very trapped by this, I jumped at the opportunity to make developing our peds residency program part of my career trajectory.  Then, as you all know, I went to 80% time in April of this year.  I'm down to 6 half-day sessions, which feels really balanced, and will likely be transitioning to just 5 once we have residents (July of next year!).  I am doing more leadership and making good use of my organizational abilities (yay!) but also get plenty of clinical time.  It's a great balance for me.

3) Our kids' preschool.  A has been at a preschool associated with a community temple essentially since we arrived (Annabel spent about 2 weeks somewhere else and it was not the right fit), and Cameron began at age 2.   The school is Emilio Reggio-inspired, and really well-run.  I have been so impressed with their teachers and the overall approach to learning through creative play and community.  A starts elementary school (public) this fall, so this experience is a complete unknown -- we will see how it goes, but I have reasonably high hopes.

4) Our nanny.  This one is probably clear from anyone who reads regularly.  G has been with us since early the beginning (she's our first and only!) and is basically parent #3 in our family.  We have developed such great household routines, though I credit her initiative and organization more than my direction.  She truly loves A & C, and was 100% on board with another baby -- something that I honestly considered in our decision.  I will also shout-out to our other babysitter, who is wonderful and reliable and allows us date night when we want (need?) it.

5) Our neighborhood.  I love that I feel safe running in our immediate neighborhood, and that we can walk (or run) to the kids' swim lessons on weekends.  

6) Having friends!  This took years, but I finally feel like we have enough friends that our social calendar is as full as it needs to be.  I'm pretty sure Josh wishes it were even LESS full sometimes - ha.  Classic introvert/extrovert dichotomy, but we seem to manage okay.

Things I am a bit less thrilled about . . .

1) The weather -- specifically for running.  I'm sure the fact that it is August doesn't help me here, but honestly -- truly 'good' running days are SO RARE here.  Even in December, we have many "lows" in the 70s -- not really cool enough for me to truly feel comfortable out there.  I will say that the two times I ran the Miami half-marathon, we had SUPER cold mornings (luck!).  I just wish they were more frequent.  And the summer weather is just disgusting for runs.  I've banished myself largely to the treadmill for this one.

With all that said, I DO love that our pool is warm for several months of the year, and that the kids can swim outside (in heated water) year-round.  It's a little bit thrilling to be able to hang out comfortably on the beach in November.  But this one really is a mixed bag.  I truly NEVER thought I'd say this but . . . I kind of sort of miss real seasons.

2) Priciness and culture of materialism.  There is definitely a lot of value placed on image and beauty and things down here that I am not used to, and I don't just think it's because we've moved 'up' in our careers.  I will say that Josh's family is decidedly ANTI-material, and I love that.  But sometimes it's hard to be the only one at a school function without a designer bag (Chanel / Goyard / LV / etc) or ummm, 'upgraded' body parts (this is an exaggeration, but not a huge one).  We try to be very purposeful with our spending, preferring to invest more in experiences (for us + the kids) than things.  I suspect that in other places, I'd feel less alone in this.

3) Community cohesiveness.  This one is a little tougher to put into words, but I just don't get warm fuzzies thinking of our local restaurants, stores, and coffee shops the way I did in Durham, or even Chapel Hill.  Perhaps this just takes longer -- we were in the Triangle for 11 full years -- but I'm not sure that's it.  It might just be that I prefer a slightly smaller-town atmosphere.

4) Climate change.  I am pretty sure we are not living in the ideal spot for rising waters + temps.  Just had to throw that in there.

5) My commute.  I honestly don't have a terrible attitude about it, and enjoy the podcast-listening time.  But sometimes it just feels FAR, and I wish I had those hours back.  I hate that I can't jet home if needed in the middle of the day, and that working a half-day feels like a waste.  I detest the weekend rounding, when sometimes I drive 2 hours just for 2 hours of hospital work time!   My 80% situation helps, but I can imagine that as the kids' activities/meetings/etc multiply as they get older, this is going to get more and more annoying.

In conclusion:

I am grateful to live here -- flooding, humidity, and all.  I definitely feel like this is HOME after 4 years, and that we have really built our adult lives here.  There is no way to know if we'll be here forever, and I am really intent to see how A's first foray into elementary school goes.  But for now, I'm happy.  It's not paradise and it's not perfect, but it is a lovely place to call home.


pic from summer '16