Thursday, July 12, 2012

"I'm going back to dignity and grace."* Well, we were going home, at least.

Our last day in Charleston dawned not as hot and muggy as the previous mornings, but we were both slightly melancholic at the thought of leaving Charleston behind. It’s always a great trip when you don’t feel the pull of home so quickly. If you’re anxious for your bed, your couch, your HOUSE, then maybe the place you’re visiting isn’t for you. Charleston wasn’t as magical as Richmond for us, but it had SOMETHING. Maybe it was the food (most likely it was for me), or the lowland feel of the place (I think that was it for Dutchboy) but we both wanted to linger for a bit, to extend for a few precious minutes and to most likely return again, someday.

I had tried before arriving in Charleston to get even a brunch reservation at Husk, and was denied on even that attempt to eat there. So, I had thought we would wander the city and happen upon a brunch option. But we were too early, and breakfast WASN’T really an option anywhere. We had passed The Bakehouse Bakery CafĂ©, on East Bay Stree, during our ramblings and I had read good things about it. We decided to drop in and pick up a picnic breakfast/brunch. Standing in line for our food, I noticed a framed article, in which Anthony Bourdain rated them as one of the most UNDERRATED places in Charleston! Foodie fortune had serendipitously smiled on us again. We picked up a couple of HUGE biscotti, a huge soft chewy ginger cookie, two yogurt parfaits, and two mochas and headed down to Waterfront Park.

Ahh. Finally. Breakfast!

And what sight would greet us at Waterfront Park?? A HUGE cruise ship, in dock to pick up passengers and set sail that evening. Charleston’s Maritime Center has become Home Port for the Carnival cruise ship Fantasy – the starting point for a cruise to the Bahamas.

The photo really doesn’t do justice to how big the ship really is—and how it dwarfed everything around it. It ate up the landscape, truly. 2056 passengers, 920 crew and 855 feet in length. Yeah. Big seems like an understatement.

With breakfast done and photos taken of the ship, we were running out of time. Dutchboy, in his infinite wisdom, saw the bronze plaque with the map of Charleston and decided we needed a portrait taken with the city in front of us and the harbor behind us. You see, the thing about Ton is he LIKES TO PLAY WITH THE CAMERA. And play. and play. We have quite a few photos of him running to stand beside me, of me making horrible faces at him, and of me complaining. He finally did manage a decent shot though. I guess for all his little boy ways, he comes up with a good idea once in a while.


We decided to spend our final few minutes on a swing, enjoying the harbor views instead of oogling a man-made monstrosity or fighting with the camera. In an odd coincidental sidenote, a kind lady who turned out to be a contractor that worked with Lowe’s in Mooresville, offered to take our photo and capture our final moments in Charleston, and the beginning of our eighth year of marriage. I suspect she witnessed the self-portrait attempts and took pity on us!!!


With that, it was time to share a final anniversary kiss and return to the car to begin the trip back to the daily grind. Charleston lingers though, with thoughtful grace and laid-back charm, searing heat and the mnemonic whiff of confederate jasmine on a shady side street. Probably the greatest thing about traveling is you never really leave a place behind. It leaves it mark, its own passport stamp on your psyche. Sometimes it is good, sometimes it is bad, but it is always an experience that opens you up to different possibilities.

*Title quote from Gone with the Wind: "I'm going back to dignity and grace. I'm going back to Charleston, where I belong." (Rhett Butler)

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