Last weekend I went to a three day music festival in Pensacola and that was the first time I’d been back to Pensacola since I left in ’96.
Way, way back in 1994, my best friend, Pilar, and another friend, Mike, were sitting at a picnic table at Shadrack’s, partaking in a few frosty beverages. Midway through the night, we came up with the brilliant idea (as one does while drinking cold beer on the beach) to move to Pensacola. Pilar’s then boyfriend lived there, so she had motivation. Mike and I decided we would go to UWF because it was the only school in Florida that didn’t require a Master’s degree in marine biology. We could do the four year program and run off and work on Jacques Cousteau’s boat. The plan sounded like a win/win.
Things didn’t quite turn out the way we planned. Our little group splintered. Feelings were hurt and we all went our separate ways.
Pensacola wasn’t a good place for me. Not that there’s anything wrong with the city. It’s just that Pensacola is home to a naval base and an officers’ flight training school.
Mix in lots of fly boys and lots of bars and you can understand why Pensacola wasn’t the best place for someone like me, someone easily distracted by bright, shiny objects. And boys. I was very distracted by boys.
So I moved to Pensacola with my best friend in the world and another good friend but I moved home alone.
Needless to say, Pensacola doesn’t hold the fondest memories for me. Sure, there were good times, but that was the one and only time in my life that I’ve ever been homeless. I was lucky enough to sleep on the floor at Stephanie’s, a tiny little girl with naturally white blond hair to her ass, big blue eyes, perfect complexion and the ability to make a man blush with her foul mouth. Oh, and she could also rattle the rafters with her belches. I loved that girl.
So last Friday, as we drove into Pensacola, I was excited because I started remembering things and places like the big red clay hills called The Bluffs. I used to go down to The Bluffs and climb all over those things. Good times.
After we got to the hotel and checked into our rooms, we all headed down to the beach to see Pearl Jam. I had seen them way back in ’92 or ’93. They played here a few years back but I was broke and didn’t get to see them.
I was not missing them this time.
We got down to the beach venue and stopped in at a little bar. Pilar and I decided to kick it old school, so I ordered a round of Mind Erasers and we did our shots like we used to- through a straw, glass on the bar, hands clasped behind our backs.
After a few drinks, we ran down to the beach to catch Pearl Jam.
And it was magical.
We sank out feet into the sand and drank cold beers and watched one of my favorite bands of all time tear it up for two hours.
We sang every word to almost every song and we danced our asses off. We hugged and sang and swayed with the music.
It was magical. They say you can’t catch lightning in a bottle but last Friday night I did just that. It was magical, it was powerful, it was fun, but most of all it was love.
Those nights don’t happen often.
I will cherish the memory and hold onto it until I catch lightning in a bottle again.