Friday, March 18, 2011

A Life Diverted

So I'm going to take a moment to break from all my self-analysis and just talk about my road trip. First of all, I was planning upon leaving the ship to jump in my car, maybe take a day's break and then head on home, 1 day, 2 at the most. So the day before my departure, I over hear a conversation. Seems one of the other crew members who was leaving with me had lost his hotel and not being from the area or even from the country had no idea what he was going to do.

"Hey, I've got a car, no deadline and a crew discount on a hotel. Wanna go halves with me, and I'll plan on staying down here for two days?" As he was actually staying in the area for few days and then reboarding the ship as a guest. So I called home and said I'd be coming home probably late Monday. My husband was out of town all weekend anyway and didn't seem particularly anxious to have me back.

So I figured I'd stay two nights and head home Monday. But then I found a deal for two nights, get the third free. Cool. I didn't have anything planned until Friday and I thought, "why not, I do need a bit of a vacation." Besides we were having fun going to the parks and finding little pubs and anything "American" to whet his appetite for the wackiness of American culture. The M&M store was a particular favorite. A symbol of American capitalism, utilizing a logo into mass marketing. It was kind of fun to see this capitalist world through the eyes of an outsider.

So three days passed in blissfully ridiculous adventures-oh, no-nothing romantic about it. We got to know each other rather well, but, to say that we both had enough on our plates is an understatement. In a way, it's nice to take sex and romance off the table anyway, no pressure, no need to look good or more importantly, smell good. Oh come on, we've all been there. "Does my breath smell? Is there something on my face? Is my hair ok?" Nice to not have to impress. We could just have fun without having to worry about what it all means or where it's all going. Don't get me wrong, he's cute as the dickens...and a musician which is of course my weakness...but I thought I was still coming home to...well, I don't know what, but something.

Anyway, our last day arrives and we fill our time with shopping and food and mini golf and then I drop him off at his hotel. Sadly it is another hour before they can check him in. Some sort of mix up with the reservation. No worries, it just means I'm not on the road until nearly 6 pm. Hmm, I've a fourteen hour drive ahead of me. Do I stay another night and head out fresh in the morning? But I can tell my companion is looking forward to a bit of time on his own, so I opt to get going.

I will just drive until I start to grow too tired. That time arrives around 10:30 or so, so I start looking for potential hotels. Now there are plenty of options in the $25-$35 range. Admittedly until recently I have always followed my mother's guideline of never stay in a place with a number in the name, but with her passing, I've grown less particular. And I have found sometimes there still are bargains to be had. But as I am wrestling with my conscience over whether to cast caution to the wind, pick a dive and just use my harp to barricade the door, I see a sign which reads "Savannah 26 miles". I love Savannah. I have been there twice in my life; once when I was married, we stayed for one day and then last year we went back for a week and stayed at the most beautiful B&B, which I discovered later was run by the son of a friend of my parents. Small world. But I digress. The point is, I decided completely spontaneously to take a little side trip, which I knew would cost me time-wise. But again, I didn't have anywhere I needed to be before Friday. So off I went.

Now this is the point where I need to tell you about my GPS. I don't know what it has against me, but I do wants me dead. No, really. More than once she has lost me in the wilds of Washington with no rhyme or reason. I think she may have a thing for my husband. I only get lost when I'm driving alone. When he is in the car, she is all smiles and right turns and accurate time assessment. But when it's just the two of us it's, "right turn in, oh, my bad, you missed it." And "sharp left turn into"...a one way street. And I could swear one time I heard her say, "when possible make a legal u turn, u whore." Now, I'm not being judgmental here but I genuinely think she doesn't like me.

So I pulled over and programmed in Savannah into my GPS and she said something derogatory and possibly anti-Semitic about how I didn't deserve him while we waited for a signal. Finally, grudgingly she acquiesced that Savannah did actually exist and we were on our way. Now it wasn't long before I knew there was a problem. My GPS kept telling me to take turns for roads that didn't exist and it didn't escape my notice that I'd been driving on railroad tracks for a LONG time. I think it was when she told me just to relax and close my eyes that I really started to worry.

Anyway, I was on the phone with my friend (hands free before you get all in a tizzy) and he was on Google earth trying desperately to figure out where I was. At last we found the downtown area and I ended up on Bay Street. Looking at the row of hotels, my heart sank a bit knowing that I could add a zero to the cost of these hotels as compared to the Supersketch I had planned on and budgeted for. Well, whatever, I WAS HERE! And I was ready for adventure.

So I head in to the hotel which looked most likely to be under the century mark cost-wise and begin the check in process, buyer’s remorse immediately taking hold. Even with my AAA discount (no crew discount here) it is $116. Whatever, I'm right by the water and I want to stay. So I give the woman my credit card. She begins the process, a slew of emotions contorting her welcoming southern countenance. I begin to panic a bit...'I mean, I know we went a little crazy in Orlando but I had like $3000 on that card and I know we didn't spend...' My troubled musings are interrupted abruptly as she looks up at me and in her most conspiratorial voice says, "I found a coupon. How does $79 sound?" How does it sound? Like a symphony of book it!!!

So I check in, freshen up and head out! I am a block from the water, though I don't really want to take the river walk at this hour alone, just a little too much cobblestone and shadow and potential loss of life for a Tuesday night. So I walk up the street looking to see what's open when I hear music. Yes, perfect. Like a siren's song of ridiculous adventure, I followed the sound to a little hole in the wall bar, which was open til 3. From the moment I opened the door, I knew I was in the right place...and the right time.

My first impression was of a smallish bar; burley, shaved head bouncer-looking bartender at the ready, aging hippie at the mic, six or seven disinterested patrons on the stools, one emo guy hiding behind a pillar and one shamefully drunk, very loud fan. I take a seat at the bar. Drunk fan, in mid rant, catches sight of me and says, eyes glazed and tongue lolling, "Who are you? Where did you come from?" To which I give no response or sign of recognition.

Hippie guy plays a bit but it is obvious he would prefer to drink and chat. His ranting brings me no small amount of joy, each gem imminently more quotable than the last. He asks me about where I'm from and I tell him I'm off the ship and here for the night. "*****'s (insert company name here) the devil, but it's cool, 'cause you got benefits. And that's smart," and "I don't give a f*ck, except I do give a f*ck, 'cause I got a kid. You know what I mean. And she needs training wheels."

I exchange occasional glances with my beefy bartender who looks ready to pounce should things not go my way but I give him a reassuring nod. I got this. And he returns to cradling a vodka bottle tenderly whispering, "Just a few more minutes baby...just a few more minutes."

So hippie guy comes over to talk to me as crazy drunk fan continues to interject random thoughts apropos of nothing and completely unrelated to anything we are discussing. He decides that he wants to hear me sing and won't lay off until I do a tune. We agree on a song and I take the mic. At the end hippie guy gives me the once over and says, "You got a decent voice. You should do somethin' with that." I say nothing about the last couple of decades of performance or the CDs I've recorded. I'm not here to brag, I'm here for research. :-)

So we sit down to talk again and I'm looking at hippie guy, he is looking at me and drunk fan starts saying, "I think she's into you man. I think she digs ya. I think you're going to get laid tonight." Apparently in the course of the evening and unbeknownst to me, I have been rendered deaf. That is the only explanation I can come up with for the external nature of his internal monologue.

And then my hippy pal says the most wonderful thing a single married girl on an adventure could hope for. Turning to his companion he asks for silence. Turning to me he solemnly confesses, "I'd love to bag her. I mean, I'd love to bag you, cause you're hot. But you're cool too...and I respect that." Thank you universe for letting me be present in this moment.

Well the time comes for hippie guy to leave and he offers his drunk fan a ride. As they reach the door, drunk fan hesitates and beckons, "Laurel, you comin' to party with us?” the longing barely masked by the Jaeger shots we had shared. "No thanks, I'm cool," is all I reply. "Ok," and they are gone.I look at the bartender, he sighs, looks at me and says, "What the f*ck was that?" I don't know dude, but you're cool. And hot too. And I respect that. Really I do. No point going on, how could I top that?

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