South Carolina

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Gone to Carolina in my mind (and for reals)

Sunday, November 11th, 2007

I love Hilton Head. I want to live and die here. Well, that’s not immediately true. I want to live some other places for awhile. But when I am an old lady, after my husband has passed away (as men typically die earlier than women), I will cut my hair as short as I want and return here to the beaches of South Carolina. I will drink wine and gain some happy pounds and live out my days in peace.

I’ve walked on the beach. I’ve seen alligators and turtles and heron. I’ve finished two new songs. I’ve purchased six new books. I’ve noticed how the Spanish moss that hangs from the trees reminds me of furry monkey tails.

And tomorrow morning, I will continue The Big Trip to Tuscaloosa, Alabama. It’s time to do the Dirty South.

Coasting

Saturday, November 10th, 2007

I arrived last night in Hilton Head, SC, and it’s exactly as I pictured it. The Atlantic coast, sandy beaches, reeds emerging from the water, Spanish moss hanging from the huge trees, blue sky, and… me. In a stranger’s home.

My mom’s… friend’s… neighbor… is hosting me. I showed up on her doorstep around dinnertime, having no idea who she was or what I might find in her home. How ecstatic was I to find that she is awesome.

Lynn is in her 50’s, a divorcée as of Thursday, and dating Mike, a hysterical ex-cop/insurance broker. They immediately invited me in, and poured me a glass of wine. Both bitter, angry, charming liberals, they fed me shrimp cocktail as a fire burned in the fireplace and incense burned in the corner. We got to know each other, talked about politics and religion and love and heartbreak, and I can’t remember a time I laughed so hard.

Today, Lynn took me to her church’s rummage sale where the entertainment was provided by the Alligator Dixieland Jazz Band, six old men in matching vests that one of their wives probably sewed for them. The upright bassist sang while the trumpet and clarinet and banjo supplied that definitive boardwalk band sound – it was just so classic. Lynn bought a set of used golf clubs, and I bought a stack of books.

At the sale, I met Louise, an 80-year old spitfire who told me her life story over a plate of nachos. She told me that she will be in Kansas City for Christmas Eve 2008, and after hearing that my dad is a pastor, is planning on attending a service at his church. She even wrote down directions – ha! So Mom and Dad, get ready to welcome Louise… in a year.

This afternoon, I plan on finishing some songs that have been in the works for a few weeks now. I have to have SOMETHING to show for this extended time on the road – something besides a few extra pounds, a few new friends, and a lot of really, really good memories.