We’ve been sailing for a week on the Pacific. The great blue peaceful expanse, now cobalt, now slate, now azure, ever rolling. There’s been plenty of time to reflect, plenty of time to drink this ocean in. I’ve been enraptured by this waves, charmed by dolphins, amused by Booby’s, mesmerized by bioluminescence as it envelops the swift bodies of sharks at night. Before this passage I’ve seen paradise in dozens of its manifestations. I’ve danced and sang and laughed with countless strangers in the Caribbean and Latin America. I’ve eaten delicious food and been shown great hospitality. I can only hope that more of this lies in wait as we make our way around the world. More of life’s marrow. But one thing becomes more clear with each nautical mile and new city we notch on our belts — we’ve got a good thing going in Charleston.
If you happen to be reading this in Charleston, take a moment to look around wherever you are and appreciate how wonderful of a town you’re in. You may be following our journey, feeling jealous, stoking your wanderlust. But here’s the good news — we live in one of the finest cities in the world. Sure, Conde Naste and others have been saying it for years, but that has always seemed surface level to me. It’s the usual rap sheet: our world class colonial architecture, our exciting culinary scene, living history, charming people, grits. Yada yada. Don’t get me wrong.I do miss all of those things, truly, and each is yet unmatched in my journey. But I miss the finer things of Charleston. Not fine in the sense of white linen and silver. Fine in the granular sense. Nuanced things, those that are tucked into the cracks and cozy spaces of our lives. The haunts and hangs of the daily grind. The pulse of a living community. I miss clear crisp days with oysters roasting and a local beer. I miss a drive to North Charleston to visit H&L Asian Market and a stop in to Community thrift. I miss the Terrace Theater and the Pour House. Jack of Cups after a long hot day on Folly Beach. Noseeums at Bowen’s Island with friends. A quiet day at Sullivan’s. Shark tooth hunting in our rivers. Plant shopping at Hyam’s and Meeting Green. A beer on the Revelry Rooftop and a show at The Royal American. I miss a lazy day in Hampton Park with a book. I miss Harris Teeter and Earthfare (RIP). A day wandering our creeks on boats big and small. I miss Spanish Moss and Live Oaks and Spartina. I miss the pluff mud. I miss Capers and Botany and Morris. I miss the backyards of friends and dinner parties. I miss all of that and so much more. I miss MY Charleston.
Chances are your Charleston intersects with mine at one of these places. Maybe more. Even if it doesn’t, you have your own Charleston and I’m sure that it is just as rich, just as dear. Our home is a wondrous place, one worthy of all the praise heaped on it, and even more. If you’re there today reading this, really drink it in with gratitude for me. In the meantime, I’ll be here on the Pacific Ocean, listening to Susto and Brave Baby with Geechie Boy grits on the stove, grasping at a sweetgrass keychain and memories of home.