Thursday, February 16, 2006

Savannah

Today, I fly to Savannah, Georgia, to meet M. for a long weekend. She and I both spent time at Savannah College of Art & Design (SCAD), and seem to be in the mood for a little southern nostalgia. We're spending nights in Savannah, Tybee Island and Jekyll Island. My favorite memory of my time living in Savannah is of riding my motorcycle out on the causeway across the marshes between Wilmington Island and Tybee Island, on early mornings, to have breakfast at a small hash joint frequented by Tybee's peripheral denizens of retirees, idle red necks, SCAD students straying from the reservation, and long-haul commuters getting their full platters of eggs and grits before driving into Savannah. I've always liked these odd social nooks, anyway, pockets of quiet communal contemplation, humor, and mutual forbearance; finding these hide-aways is one of the benefits of living on the "periphery of life," as I complained about, in a post below.

Savannah is not a place to hang out in the summer. The heat and humidity are something like you'd imagine the atmosphere of Venus. Jesus, it was hot. But, September through April or May could be wonderful. I love living outside, the outdoor bars, barbecues, kayaking through the marshes, sailing, diving, serious-ass social drinking, sweet ice tea, and the penchant for TALK, which seems to be encouraged by a hot climate. The urge to jaw, laugh, socialize, tell tall tales, and find any excuse to party is another thing I miss about my time down there. In the south, loquacity and dramatic expressiveness are not signs of weakness, as they tend to be in the reserved north and laconic west.

I've lived for months at a time in Key West and Key Largo, as well as Savannah. I have family in New Orleans and (I'm told) in Alabama. There ain't much theater down there, though, and the race relations are even more poisonous than your imagination tells you. I certainly don't miss the Jew jokes, use of the 'n word', thinly veiled race resentments expressed even by southern white liberals, the pamphlets for the moral majority that I used to get in my teachers mailbox (in the short time I taught high school there,) or the defiantly hierarchical social order (especially in Savannah). But, man. The laughter. The ocean. The warm rains. I imagine myself and M. living half naked with a passel of swamp-sticky kids in a rambling, breezy house full of books, in the mangroves, with a turkey smoker out back. That's the life... on the next karmic go-around, maybe.

I'll talk to you next week.

5.5

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