Nobody wants visitors from Florida: Covid-19 means roadblocks at the border

Being 13 years old is a full-time struggle. It’s tough to find friends — 3 schools in 3 years, and a 1,000-mile move. She’s met a few friends since moving to Florida; the 6th-grade friends from a different school have faded. Two friends she made this past year are still in the picture, but it’s tough to hook up with them.
What I’ve learned: Adults in this day and age can’t fully understand what social media means to teens (and younger).
Social media has been a lifeline for Daughter. She stays in touch — that’s an understatement — with friends she’s made here and has a well-worn contact list of friends from Pennsylvania. I hear laughing and her voice calling out from behind her closed door. She emerges from her room, phone in hand. “I’m talking to …,” she says. These kids are so connected they remain on face time as they are doing other things (like cooking macaroni and cheese). She just told me she’s working on a craft project, and her friend … is making a bracelet, and they both are watching Grey’s Anatomy at the same time time.
She stays connected with certain friends through Snapchat. She and her friends regularly show each other what they’re wearing, their make-up, their hair. I’m sure they complain about adults. Sometimes they play songs for each other, and try to sing along.
When I knock on her door (always) and open the door, she’s usually in bed, with her pad and phone running simultaneously She could be watching Netflix and talking to a friend; playing a game and talking to a friend who is playing the same games; she might be sitting on the floor in front of her mirror (make-up).making 15-second videos for each other …
The first couple weeks of Distance Learning, I was concerned about her time in bed.
I worried she was depressed. I talked to her about it. Nope, not depressed. Her bed is the coziest, most comfortable part of her room. She loves her bed. She’s been letting the dog bed down with her lately.
Also, her online time is closely monitored. There are sites she’s not allowed to join. She knows the rules about talking to strangers. She operates well within the boundaries established for her, but there’s plenty of room to play. Anytime you ask what she’s doing, she quickly and credibly replies.
Back to the friends in Pennsylvania. Two weeks ago, one of her friends was vacationing with her parents and was able to spend a couple of days here.
One of Daughter’s goals this summer is to travel north and spend a few days carpetbagging from friend to friend. Activities are planned, like meet-ups and overnights. Social media truly has kept her linked to these friends. When I was a kid, and someone moved 1,000 miles away — despite promises to stay in touch — that friendship quickly faded. Long-distance phone calls were expensive. Not so in the 21st Century.
So she’s been waiting for the proper moment to put her travel plan in motion. Last week, she hunted for and found inexpensive round-trip flights. I reminded her that would mean staying in a hotel for 5 days, and renting a car. When you get right down to it, our usual mode of transit — driving — was the most prudent choice.
As much as I want to see her, I expected my Mother would not want to risk exposure to a potential covid infection.
We know my sister and her family are super-busy; we texted and asked if there was an evening we could share.
Her halting answer: People coming from Florida needed to be quarantined for 14 days.
Whoa. Our plans skidded to a halt. We hadn’t even considered that. I figured when we got to the state border, they’d look at our Florida tags and offer two choices: Turn around and go home, or bed down for a 14-day quarantine.
Daughter was stunned. She fled to the privacy of her room, and we could hear her crying. Her heart was broken, and my heart cracked for her. There was nothing I could say. She tried to find a loophole in rules, but came up dry.
I tried to imagine the pain she was feeling. I could grasp that no more than I could grasp the wide-ranging significance of social media in her life.
But she rebounded. She got in touch with her Pennsylvania friends to update them.
I underestimated her resiliency. She was upset, but there was nothing she could do about it.
“Dad,” she said. “I haven’t seen a lot of the friends for two years.” She wasn’t giving up.
My takeaway: I’d never seen her react with more maturity. I was proud of her resiliency. And I know we’ll make the trip north, once we’re out from under this virus.


2 thoughts on “Nobody wants visitors from Florida: Covid-19 means roadblocks at the border

  1. We miss seeing you guys, but this virus isn’t going away. Really wanted to see you for your BDay!

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