Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Magical Mystery Tour

We set out last weekend determined to have a good time, soft plans set for every night. I love that. It was a week since our pup lost the use of a front leg, and it was Cary's last two days before the quivering API segment of flight school. We needed some life.

In an orientation meeting the week prior, the instructor warned the married students that they're at a big disadvantage. Families are demanding. I tower to differ. Every spouse associated with that classroom had been separated from their loved one for months already, hanging in there, getting by, possessing strength. Add a child or two to the mix, and there are some understandable demands. But add some sweet and strong and levelheaded spouses who clean and cook and support, add them to the mix--even if I do under the fridge as a dustpan and send Cary to class with a bag of chips and jar of hummus--and those paired up student naval aviators, navigators, coast guardians, and marines getting ready for the sky are G2G.

So the good wife lets Cary show her a good time on his last weekend off for while. Miller's Pensacola Ale House is not far from our new home. We sit on the patio and watch the white and red lights pass on the highway below. Cary orders sliders. If they're on the menu, he'll probably get them. Why do you like them so much, I ask. They're just ... mini. Miniature cheeseburgers. It's cool.

We try and see what our friends are up to and decide not to wait around but just head to what seems to be the star that burns hottest in downtown Pensacola come Friday night. Seville. Officially Seville Quarter. Cary's been before and tries to describe how huge and unique and fun it is. But in real life, it's to-say-the-least impressive. There are seven rooms of varying size and decor that offer cafes, bars, bands, and entertainment. There's dancing, games, balmy patios, and a piano bar that frosts the cake. It's Dave and Buster's on crack. Minus the kids and multiplied by "heaping portions of Dixieland jazz and good times."

Cary shows me through the wood-paneled hallways lined with smudged windows and benches and a piano not in use. On which I have to play the intro to the only song I know by heart. We check out all the rooms. including Apple Annie's and Fast Eddie's, then head to the back garden and slump together on a cushioned bench nestled into a stone wall while we listen to a band's Bob Marley renditions on a stage set to look like a neighborhood garage. Everything might be sweeter right now due to the distance and heart growing fonder thing, but a little Marley from our Newbold days and bliss before the storm makes it all downright dessert.

We soon find ourselves in the piano bar--Rosie O'Grady's, the "good time emporium"--joined by another couple in the naval aviation program. You can request songs all night long and not stump the musicians. The pitchers of beer on tap are cheap. Pabst Blue Ribbon--referenced in I Know This Much is True by Wally Lamb so I have to try it--is a kind of sweet dry. The friendliness of the staff and patrons are the ganache.

We groove and grind and hop in Phinneas Phogg's to surprisingly good and recognizable dance music for once, like Rihanna and the Black Eyed Peas. We fall into bed that night exhausted. After making it to the nearby church and Waffle House the next morning (FYI, the biscuits and gravy is as to die for as the pancake thin waffles), our nap extends well into the evening, sounding out phone calls, texts, and the ceiling fan and backyard bugs and birds that try so hard to keep our brains waking.
Cary stifles his screams for once in the ultra freaky basement.

The Pensacola Lighthouse is haunted. We get tickets from a fellow couple who joins us on the once-a-month full moon (duh) tour that takes us on a hokey crawl through the small house and tall tower Saturday night. The tour guides could use both more common sense and storytelling skills, but we do our best to scare ourselves and make each other giggle. Giggling is possible for Cary, who is afraid of mice and PG-13 horror movies. The SyFy network show Ghost Hunters will be back, they say. And the lady who runs the gift shop supposedly had an encounter I didn't have the courage to ask her about with a straight face.

We climb the lighthouse tower steps and watch the beams do half circles across the city, gulf, and NAS to the east. We stare north to Alabama, straining to see lights. We talk about why some people feel the need to jump. It's weird. Is it? the other husband asks. Hmm. Maybe not. Do I want to jump? Hey, did I just see something?!

I keep trying to spot spooky shadows or quick movements or just something that make boredom impossible for the moment. I used to hate scary stuff when I was little. Yet I couldn't help trying to watch it or listen to a ghost story told by the neighbor girl. I wonder what changed? Do I secretly like it now to overcome it? My legs are shaky at the bottom of the steps. Only tired muscles, no nerves, not scared. Boo. I start scratching a new set of mosquito bites that will leave me with bumps looking like broken bones. Didn't grow out of that one.

The same couple kindly invited us to a comedy show Sunday night in Mobile. I thank them by calling the sweet wife by the wrong name. I'm starting to worry they'll think we're all about non-reality and not listening. Or at least me. Which is even worse--because who wants to be the disappointing wife of the great guy. Ha.

Yesterday was my first full day dedicated to my new career life of self-employment. Well, besides changing Butters' bandages and doing laundry, dishes, and Cary. Oops, I mean dinner for Cary. Being self-employed lacks bosses but not your own worst critic. Funny coworkers are replaced by people with fur (or diapers one day). And self-employed is not always an option on forms--so just know you're going to have to be writing that puppy in if you're heading in that ambiguous direction of freelance or consulting yourself.

I'm doing the whole profile perfection time-waster, building networks that may create pointless Webs or beacoup bucks, figuring out different tax methods and retirement plans (learned how to be an LLC  and the difference between a simple and roth IRA), applying to a couple steady income options that would be a godsend since the debits are creeping up past the credits and businesses don't care if you want to be a novelist. And once again trying to figure out the best way to describe what the fuck I do without sounding pretentious or more talented than I am. If Cary gets to say pilot, I get to say writer. Deal. Shit, he's not quite there yet. But we're probably doing more than you. Wink.

I go get the mail and find the gardner missed the mushrooms. Good. I would have too. I like. Maybe I really should mow the lawn and not outsource it. Cary says Navy wives do. Now he winks. Nawww, got a consulting job and great American novel to work on. Well, at least until I'd rather mow a mile than receive another rejection letter.


Anonymous said...

Aly I could not stop thinking what an amazing writer you are the whole time i I was reading this! Seriously, write a book, I'll be the first in line :) Miss you! -cw

Aly said...

Oh good! I'm tickled.

You can be the one guest at my book signing too and then help me go around and place my book in more prominent spots in the bookstore.

I love that CW are your initials because I love that channel. =)