I began reading a story about Savannah and all of a sudden I came to miss the old city.
John Berendt’s book Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil was everywhere when I was there in November. And not just in the books stacked and smooth little replicas of the iconic Bird Girl statue laid out on shelves in the gift shops scattered around the squares, but in the allure of this hostess city she’d claimed to be. I could see it in her oaks hung in that mystical moss, the homes still hung up on the next batch of guests from far and wide and wide, eager to see what tricks this fine lady might still offer.
I would have never received the same book for Christmas that I now obsess over, if not incidentally for last year. Last year I turned 22. I wasn’t feeling it despite what Taylor Swift tried telling us. Don’t even remember much of it other than a nice breakfast with my dad and boyfriend and the generous Tiffany necklace he got me with a DVD of On the Road. Well what I remembered was nice. But 2013 was a weird year for me; I just graduated and just got out of a jobless slump and was barely grasping the ropes of a really creative job that veiled the evils of retail. Celebrate one thing, but still feeling out where I was in life, climbing the slopes into hopefully something greater that I could proudly toast to next year.
And on my 23rd birthday, I’m fresh at a new promising job and a growing list of work publications under my belt. I’m not at the top of any mountain though, just at a better elevation to take a rest and see the magnificent views that brought me to where I stand now. With all that behind me, the November 4th week of this year was nothing but surreal, blissful, and not in the traditional sense, either. When I turned 23, I did something different. I went to the South.
It began in Orlando where my mom had already been a week for work business, and from there our travels took us towards more unknown lands on this side of America, and I can still recall the way back up to this town. A Saturday morning coasting up 95 North towards a fairytale place and getting tailgated the whole way up. It was a peaceful drive regardless. I fell asleep sometime before the Florida-Georgia state line and only awoke when we pulled off the road to refill the car and get us some Dunkin Donuts for the first time. It was the start of a weekend with my mom, three thousand miles away from home and somehow in the one spot of the US we never thought we’d see. I commemorated this moment with playing Old Crow Medicine Show’s “Wagon Wheel” rendition, in all its playful well-strung glory that could capture the sounds of the brown creeks and tall trees scratching up against each other while the wind stirred them. It was all just right for the journey northbound for the Old South. Georgia was full of rawness, withered down charm made from the many hotspots of turmoil and beauty only history books and Margaret Mitchell could tell me about. It just felt funny seeing so much of something before my eyes as our car went further up and deeper into the Dixie realm. Funny to see that beyond California, there still is the rest of America.
And I could move back to Savannah. The way the stillness and grace of those wide Victorians give color new meaning and renew those old bones that have seen much splendor and its share of heartache across the centuries. There’s mystery there too, gossip and secrets and once a murder, some things the local paper might never spill out, should those like me ever come back. But apparently they like it that way. Undisturbed by the world outside, ready to dine on its own troubles in the company of familiar faces.
It’s nice to become acquainted with an old belle as She; amid her taffy and cheap cameo jewels from the cold docks on the river, through the streets darkened by damp chill and those curtains of moss shrouding the houses from the ugliness of carpetbagged progress of this new century, there was kindness, and new faces that laughed and bundled up against the bleak November in boots and floral scarves and shared their comforting delicacies of the best fried chicken and cheddar biscuits you could ever eat. Happy to hear it’s your first time in Georgia, those in the Lady and Sons Restaurant truly show you a good time. And that butter really is everything.
Let’s continue this story. For I feel towards its end I’ll be traveling back to that highway on the coast that passes the wrecked shrimp boat stuck in the riverbed and up to that little sweet city, to really see this happy ending for myself.