I’d spent quite a bit of time in the Pensacola area, so there were a few places I wanted to revisit, specifically a beach and a pub, which sounds Florida-typical, non? But I promise you this beach and this pub are special.
Pensacola is better than the rest of Florida. For one, there’s always a breeze. It’s a breezy place, so I feel less like I’m dying. Two, there are actual trees, big deciduous shade trees, so I feel less like I’m dying. I still hate Florida, but if I hafta be there, Pensacola is a good area.
Ft. Pickens (click here for geeky-good info) is a beautiful, historic place. It’s most beautiful in winter, while riding a bicycle through it all day, but it’s also very beautiful in summer, while you sit in your air-conditioned car. It is slightly less beautiful outside the air-conditioned car in summer, while you wander around on the white sand, the sun ravaging your body. You knew it would be this way, but you are a good sport. Your face wears SPFkajillion and you wear your large straw hat and your long-sleeve, thin white shirt because the sun is not your friend. You are a trooper. Not only have you upped your water intake over the last week in preparation for this excursion, but you also guzzle water like it’s your job and never, ever mention to anyone that you feel like you’re dying because your throat only seems to work while you’re drinking the water and not so much for breathing. Despite the nagging anxiety that tells you you’re in a Salvador Dali painting, you know that your face has not melted off, because your Rosacea has flared and you can feel the red hot pin-pricks of a thousand angry capillaries rupturing. People begin to ask you if you’re okay, and you say you are, because you don’t need medical intervention. They ask if you’re sure, because your face is red in a way that indicates heat stroke is upon you. You take your sunglasses off and reveal puddles of sweat behind the lenses, and you say, “I’m alright. See? Still sweatin.” They ask if you’re sunburnt and you say, “No, this just happens when I’m hot.” Your youngest child tells everyone about your Rosacea, and how you can’t deal with heat, and how your body is northern, and that’s fine. You wear a wry smile and are glad no one can tell you’re blushing, even if your face just went up twenty degrees.
Your youngest child has your mother’s skin, and got a tan in the car on the way to Florida. You know by the end of the week she will be brown as a bean, and you are glad for her.
Your other little one begs you to sit with her in a tunnel and then asks if she can take off her shirt. You allow that, knowing that it will only provide five seconds of cooling, but she’ll learn. You realize she isn’t just white like you, she’s miserable like you.
It’s not long before your even whiter son joins you both in the tunnel, and asks you what the summer’s like in Indy. He doesn’t remember anymore. You tell him there are very few days like this one, and that summer only lasts three months. You tell him about how cool soft green grass feels underfoot, and how often a good rain brings the temperature from the 90’s into the 70’s. He tells you he’s had enough of the heat and can’t wait to leave. You feel badly for him, but remember he chose his own college, so you tell him that it’s even hotter where Grandma is. He shakes his head. You shake your head, too.
But before all that, before you knew you were going to die in a tunnel with your whitest babies, you walked around and climbed things and explored, taking pictures, because like you said, you think it’s beautiful.
You regret that you’re not a particularly good photographer, and that you didn’t take a hundred better photos, but in your defense, you were dying, and the sun was so bright you could scarcely see.
Also, scenery, I don’t care who you are or where you are, is never nearly as beautiful when caught by a camera. This is one of the things Moo learned on our trip. She said, “I wish the camera could see things the way I do.”
That water felt better than any water I ever felt. Until the next time I almost died, then that water felt better than any water I ever felt and so on and so forth.
But isn’t it beautiful?
For Florida, anyway.