Every year there’s a local ritual, whereon you ask everyone you know what they are doing this summer, then nod dutifully while they recite their complicated plans (“…five days in Sardinia and then the kids are going to spend a week with grandma in Normandy while I paint my cousin’s house in the Ardeche…”), and then promptly forget everything they just told you.
But it really doesn’t matter because the only thing you need to know is that in July and August you won’t see anyone. You may bump into the occasional lone wolf loping through the ghost town that was once your bustling neighborhood, but basically, you are on your own. Not that anyone actually takes two months of vacation, but since they are staggered throughout July and August, and since kids and parents often fly off in different directions at different times, and stores close for at least three weeks, it feels like everyone but you is doing precisely that.
When you live abroad, the Vortex tends to whirl at an even higher speed, because you have to fly all over the world to even find the family that will slowly drive you crazy over the course of your stay. Not that you don’t want to see your family, but if you are from a faraway place like California and it’s a once-a-year reunion, it tends to get rather intense. It’s one thing to visit with your parents for an evening or a weekend, and it’s another to spend two weeks with them 24-7.