Recently one of my friends on Google+ posted a picture of a lighthouse. I told him I had recently climbed to the top of the Pensacola Lighthouse even though I was scared. He asked me where he could read about it. In an effort to please one man’s curiosity about my climb, here you go Michael Smolensky:
It was a bright and sunny day in Pensacola, when a bright and beautiful family decided to visit the reportedly haunted Pensacola Lighthouse (BOO!). The mom thought it would be fun, she’d done a bit of research, she liked the idea of visiting a haunted place. But she’d forgotten that in order to climb the lighthouse you had to wear tennis shoes. No worries though, they had a flip-flop station to leave your dangerous shoes behind and make the climb. The family climbed, it was beautiful, they came down. THE END.
That may not be an entirely true story. Maybe…
It was actually rainy. I did forget to make everyone wear their tennis shoes. We did leave our flip-flops in cubby-holes. I don’t know how long it took to go up or down. I only remember stairs. Very steep, see-through, rickety, iron stairs. One hundred seventy seven of them. We had to stand in line, only so many people were allowed up and down at the same time. Which gave me enough time to read the “WARNING IF YOU SUFFER FROM ANY OF THE FOLLOWING DO NOT CLIMB” list – notably, heights. Well I’m afraid of heights, but my family is going, so I’m going. I will conquer my fear! ::scoffs::
Finally allowed to begin our long climb up, we’re told “the rules of traffic” on the stairs. Those coming down have the right of way while those going up must move to the center. About twenty steps up my Aunt decides her fear of heights and anxiety was too much to continue, so they turn around. I’m sweating, trying not to look down – you can see all the way to the bottom – because if I do, I just know I’m going to get dizzy and fall. This is what happened in my brain for most of the trip up: I can do this. I can do….why did that stair just move!!?? I’m falling. Just don’t let go of the railing. OH GAWD PEOPLE ARE COMING DOWN! I have to move for a three-year old. I can’t. No I have too. Close your eyes, don’t look. Just move to the center.
“HONEY, Are you okay?”
“Uh huh, just go on without me, I’m slow going.” SLOW GOING! I’m freaking out here. Breathe. BREATHE. There’s sweat in my eye, it stings, blink it away, OUCH, Can’t let go. They NUMBERED THE STAIRS! *expletive expletive*
At the first top landing, I’m trying to catch my breath when I see my son going up another set of stairs. At this point, I’m no longer rational. I’m in freak-out mode. Not sure if I actually screamed or yelled…but I know I reacted in a way that caused my husband to grab my shoulders and shake me. He said something like, “YOU NEED TO CALM DOWN!” Actually, I think that’s exactly what he said. Which made me angry enough to pull myself together – at this point – it’s adrenaline. It was up those second set of stairs that we’re at the top and greeted by a gentleman who introduces himself as Broken. OH GAWD DID HE JUST SAY THIS IS BROKEN!? No no, his name is Broken. How do you spell that I wonder?
Sufficiently occupied now by this gentleman’s name I step outside where my family is looking out over Pensacola Bay and the Gulf of Mexico. You can see Ft. Pickens from up here and the ocean looks so pretty, it’s stopped raining, Oh there’s our car. THERE’S OUR CAR! Deep breaths, deep breaths…turn the camera on, snap a couple pictures, Ooo, pretty…snap a picture of our car so I can show how far up we are…oh no..no no…NO!
At that point I got dizzy and my only fear was falling over the railing to my untimely death. And then I saw my daughter kick water with her bare feet off the platform. I may or may not have yelled her at her to cling to the wall and not to do that again. Husband turned around and asked if I was okay. I told him I needed to go down. He suggested I turn around since the door was closer the way I had come, but because I was dizzy I could only move in the direction I was facing. So, unfortunately, I rushed them along while snapping pictures to prove I’d been there and all around the damn thing. I felt better once I was back inside, but then we started down. And that was worse than going up.
I had vertigo all the way down. The only saving grace was the fact that I HAD THE RIGHT OF WAY!! HAHA!! I put both feet down on each step before taking the next one. Stared at the bricks above the railing so I didn’t have to look down. Some lady came down next to me. NEXT TO ME! She wasn’t holding on, was she crazy!?
“Are you okay? You don’t look so good. Are you sick sick or afraid of heights?”
“Um…I feel sick because of the heights.”
“But you don’t need any medical help then?”
“Nope, I’m just gonna take this slow.”
“Okay then!” And off she went down the narrowest part of the stairs without a railing. Stupid lady. Stupid not afraid lady.
In the distance I hear, “Where’s your mommy?”
“She’s still climbing down, she was really scared.”
“Honey!? You okay?”
“Uh huh. Just slow-going. I’m carrying the umbrella.” Yeah, it’s the umbrella. Stupid umbrella.
Finally at the bottom, sweating, weak in the knees, I collect my flip-flops and get myself outside. After a few purchases at the gift shop, I turn to my husband….
“…you know that ghost hunt I wanted to do here on Friday?”