In the Navy
The Texans arrived in the evening on the cusp of Winter Storm Jupiter, threatening to freeze everyone in the Northeast. Driving into the city, the roads were streaked with beet juice, which I learned acts as a de-icer when combined with salt. Because dark red roads are never a foreboding sight. Thank goodness we arrived at night or else it would have been a u-turn back to the airport.
We, the chilled birthday revelers, spent the weekend tumbling in and out of countless restaurants and bars, some with a view of the water and some with only a view of one another. So much of the harbor that we saw was foggy or rainy or dark. Only the nautical decorations and seafood-laden menus reminded us that we were seaside instead of back in Michigan.
In a basement pub that had been frequented by George Washington (where he had supposedly pinched a barmaid’s tush), the generic chit-chat ran out and after silent acknowledgment that blank staring just wouldn’t do, the conversation devolved from casual niceties to probing discussions about The Future, steamy gossip about past lovers and friends, and family dynamics. Low ceilings, dim lighting, and a smoky fireplace offer intimacy and promotes secret-telling in hushed tones.
We resurfaced to breathe fresh air, clear our blowholes, and wander the wet cobblestone streets of Annapolis, surreptitiously gawking at the Naval Academy students in their crisp uniforms that defy humidity and must be worn at all times, even to get takeout from Subway. At one point we literally tumbled into a Tervis tumbler store, a stark contrast against the slate gray sky and the murky puddles gathered along the curb. Amidst the rain-spackled storefronts, this one was cheerily lit with sparking plastic of all different colours drawing customers inside, out of the rain and cold. Like Hansel and Gretel, we went in wide-eyed with intentions to buy a souvenir tumbler to remember the weekend adventures and left empty-handed. The allure of light and brightness was enough to suck us in but not enough to fool us into thinking that a plastic cup, no matter how shiny and cute, was going to protect us from the elements.
That weekend, Annapolis was a quiet city. There wasn’t a lot of foot traffic, nor were there a lot of cars on the street. Perhaps all of the locals were hiding from the impending ice storm that never arrived or waiting for the sun to peek out before they strolled along the docks. I could imagine the packed crowds in the summertime, sea gulls crowding the air, and sails flapping in the wind.
However in the cold, you can’t smell the damp or pervasive rotten fish odor that typically accompanies a touristy seaside town. You can’t snuggle up cozy indoors, with HGTV muted in the background for pauses in between thoughts, the one of the boys napping on the couch under blankets. Even though there weren’t many secrets divulged over the weekend, there was a lot of laughing. Regardless of the cold seeping into your bones or the raindrops soaking your head, family warms the soul and heart. That and a snifter with liquor accompanied by crab dip.