Sunday, August 21, 2011

Lots of stories after a few days in Charleston

Images from Charleston and then lots of rambling below....
Tami's Garden. Really.

Izzy purchasing a sampling of local ice cream at the Charleston Farmer's Market.
Sweet corn and cinnamon was the favorite!

Shrimp is one of my all time favorite foods. 
Fresh off the boats here.

 We don't know what this vegetable is, but I LOVE the color! 
We thought beets, but they had a bunch of beets nearby....what are these???? Turnips?

 A super fun lunch spot! Jeesh, South Minneapolis needs this.

Inside Taco Boy.
The Guac!

A very religious Mary pillow on a rugged bench at Taco Boy.
Folly Beach. White sand.
I'm missing something and I can't put my finger on it. Do you ever have that slightly tender melancholy - like something dear to you is just missing?

I have a long list of possibilities and here are a few:

Lee is in the hills south of LA on a retreat with his mentor, Robert Sardello (and 29 other people.) We have been together almost constantly for the past year (except for some time he spent in Boulder with his family.) I might be missing him. And, after living apart for 4 years, I feel like I have a right to that.
But, I"m not sure that is it.

When I arrived in Minneapolis today, a Sunday, alone for the first time in weeks (!) I kept thinking about my dad (who passed from this world in June - for anyone who doesn't know.) I just felt his presence - even on my flight from Charleston / Atlanta. (He loved airplanes, so maybe that was it.) It was also that I can't forget it was a Sunday in June that it became very clear he didn't have long to live and we all agreed it was time to go to the Hospice Center in Northfield. I won't forget him leaving on a stretcher - leaving his home for the last time. I wonder what he thought about that. I miss him. Lee said it in a rather charming way recently. He said, "I'm so mad at dead people." Thinking that was a really weird thing to say, I asked, "What the .... does that mean?" He said, "I miss'em. I just miss'em. I miss my dad and your dad." Bingo.
But, I"m not sure that is it entirely, either.

I spent the last 4 days in Charleston. Izzy and I drove from NYC - leaving Wednesday morning and arriving Thursday around 6:00. I won't dwell on the hell it was to make that drive on Day 1 between NYC and Richmond, Virginia. Suffice it to say we did 336 miles in 10 HOURS! 33.6 miles per hour average. You would have to shoot me if I was a commuter between Baltimore and DC or Newark and Trenton, NJ. Driving out of Manhattan was like driving in Northfield compared to the hell of being on the interstate. It was so intense for the entire 10 hours. We consumed a bottle of wine and a horrible pizza on arrival in Richmond (which is another story entirely - and I will save it for another time.)

Day 2 was good. Lots of good Southern bluegrass and a little Carole King and we were cruising at 70 - 75 on perfect roads and only 2 lanes. I am not equipped to handle 3-4 lanes of traffic. My depth perception is just screwy. I can't manage all those cars moving around me. 2 lanes and I'm good.

Anyway, we land in Charleston at the home of my dearest friends there - Frank and Tami McCann. Well, Tami and I go waaaaaay back to 1979 when we both worked at the same fancy little clothing store in Charleston. We both love clothing. She and her husband have amazing taste, love antiques and vintage furniture, photos, cars - and clothing. (She gave me a pair of '80s Frye cowboy boots this trip which she had outgrown!) Over the years, we have grown closer, even though we moved across the country. Lee and Frank really enjoy each other - two Pisces having been born 2 weeks apart. We laugh our heads off when we are together and you can't say that about a lot of people.

So....Izzy gets this internship in Charleston (mostly because of Frank's connections, honestly) and they are kind enough to offer her their GORGEOUS carriage house (although it was technically the kitchen house) of their 1840 Charleston home - located in one of the most beautiful gardens in Charleston - for an un-determined period of time! Like many weeks! Free! A carriage house in Charleston. This is a big deal.

But the bigger deal is just that they are so generous and fun and will take Izzy on like a project! OR, rather, she will be the daughter Tami never had and they will have a wonderful time together.

The last 3 days, Tami, Izzy and I have been running all over that city, its suburbs and its beaches working to get Isabelle oriented, unpacked, loaded up with personal accoutrements like shaving cream and shampoo, shoes for work, nails and toes done for the new job so you don't look like you work pulling tassles off corn all day, practicing her drive to work so she knows how to get there, shopping the farmer's market (which only mildly passes for a farmer's market - it is more a craft fair!) for vegetables for the week, cooking for Tami and Frank as the most modest forms of gratitude for their generosity, shopping for shoes, scouting the Earthfare Market as the place to shop for organic beef, planning her social calendar with Tami, which includes a "MERMAID PARTY" at the neighbors on Monday (tomorrow) for a bunch of cool women (no men!) of all ages.

Tami has already spread the word that Izzy cooks so she's on for bringing something to the above-referenced MERMAID PARTY. Izzy is currently baking rosemary shortbreads to compliment the drinks at the party. I'll fill you in on the details and hopefully Izzy will send photos, but basically some cool around 60-year old woman has this party every year for cool women around Charleston. She lives in a 19th C. Charleston single house with a garden that looks like something out of Key West - so exotic and overgrown. As you tuck under the palms along the old brick pathway, suddenly a gorgeous pool of blue water appears surrounded by Belgian pavers. She puts out a collection of MERMAID figurines throughout the garden and the women drink, swim and do what women do everywhere - talk.

I am so JEALOUS! I wish I was there.

We shopped until we dropped (and I hate shopping) but Tami is a force. She knows the best places for cool, mostly affordable things - I bought 2 pairs of shoes - god knows what I bought Isabelle. I am going unconscious about that. Izzy bought me some crazy "stole" for my birthday at the farmer's market. See, I told you it was a craft fair.

In all, I laughed so hard and I was so relaxed and I walked on the beach and just played like a kid with a best friend  - 2 of them.  SO when I had to say good bye to Isabelle and Tami and Charleston today, it just felt like too much. I actually had one of those thoughts that I wouldn't come back. I would just call Lee and tell him to move to Charleston because I was going to stay.

It still might happen. I love it so much. But I also love the people in Minneapolis. ANd I love New york and i love Florence. SO what do you do about all that? The good news is this: Wherever I am in one of these places, I am happy. And in the end, you have to be happy inside and strong and fulfilled within - then, I believe you can have a preference for a place or two - but a place will never truly make us happy. It can be an impetus  - an environment that aligns things - like the stars - in our favor. But, the real work is still within, it seems.

All that said...jeesh, I love Charleston and I am so happy for Isabelle. It is so ironic that I moved there in my 20's and had the time of my life. I can only wish the same for her and I am so proud of her that she has moved there on her own - she hasn't even seen Frank and Tami since she was 9! She just wanted a new environment and she went for it. I feel like I am living vicariously through her - I can't wait to hear each day's story.

But, also, I miss her - we are salt and pepper, oil and vinegar. We compliment but are very, very different. Other than Lee, no one knows me like Izzy does. She lived with me when I became this person I am today in the last 8 years. Zan was off to school. Izzy had to live with me through the drama of my growing into who I am today - when Lee lived in LA and all in a 1200 sf apt.

I also think I just miss the carefree quality of the time I spent there - I haven't laughed this much in years. Tami and I are like sisters. I rarely looked at email or my computer. I was truly on a playdate with best friends. Walking away from that this morning was not easy.

Friendship and family is so precious. That is the bottom line - whether I miss Lee, my dad, my daughter or my dear friend....what does it matter? That we know and feel it is such a tender place. I am one lucky girl. I have amazing friends, happy, engaged children, work and clients I love, I get to travel,  and, well...the husband....yeah - that's really good too. Thank you to whoever is in charge.

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