Greetings! And welcome to my little corner of the world. As always, I thank you for stopping by and sharing some time with me, it is truly appreciated.
The South. I have never but driven through and it is one area of the US I would love to fully explore. My sister did her “Time Share Magic” as we have been trying to spend our birthday week together every year. Life gets hectic and we have purposed to spend this week together no matter what. I told her I didn’t care where we ended up, I can literally go anywhere for the first time and make it an adventure. She found an availability at Hilton Head, South Carolina and we decided to go to check out the Island, Charleston and Savannah Georgia. Mum *the little British gnome* was invited as well, so there you go. Girls trip!
Our place was lovely, nice and big and water right outside the window. The island was easy to get around, very pretty and lo and behold, a couple we met last year on our Budapest trip lived there! So our stay included a quilting bizarre and a home cooked shrimp boil….southern style. We went to the water (pretty nippy that day but lovely!
We were there for a week, and I am not kidding when I say we had seafood literally every single day, combined with jambalaya. (Did I spell that right?) The food there was to die for and we could not get enough of it. Tried it all, then tried some more.
Exploring the Cities
I found the cities, especially the architecture to be fascinating. There was old mixed with new. The preservation was really exceptional. We took a trolley tour through Charleston and loved every minute of it.
Walking Through History – and a Major American Scar
This next part was very difficult for me. I am an empath, and for those of you who are unfamiliar with that, I will be posting about that soon along with the many challenges that come with. I tend to be drawn to historical sites, and walking in the footsteps of those who walked before me sometimes can be very emotional. Sometimes disturbing. Sometimes both. This one was both.
We visited a plantation. Now the antebellum south is extraordinary. It is truly “the south”. It is beautiful with trees that are etched with time and memory. The history of this place was in the breeze that would catch me off guard and stop me dead in my tracks. I broke out in silent tears, many times, not understanding why. I can only imagine that I stood in the same place as a child back in the day, or the same area that something inexcusable took place. I was surrounded by breathtaking beauty. It was everywhere. But my heart felt like a piece of lead in my chest. And I had a huge lump in my throat. I spent a good deal of time shaking. I got nauseated. Very. It was something out of my control. I stood in a few places where the feeling was so overwhelming, that I couldn’t move. I was thankful that I was separated from mum and sis. I’m not sure they would understand. This happens to me a lot.
The beauty in the place was obvious. You could smell the “old money” in this place. The mansion, was exactly that; a mansion. The entry road getting to the mansion was very long, and tall trees stood proudly, or perhaps sadly, I’m not sure which. I am sure those trees have stories to tell. They lined both sides of this road. I can only imagine the thousands of feet that walked on this road. The horses, the armies, the fancy carriages. The stuff you see in those movies. But this wasn’t a film set. This was real. Real shit happened here. A lot of it.
And the mansion stood proudly, perhaps arrogantly, at the end of this long and very dramatic entry road. The photos don’t do it justice. It was large, ornate, preserved well, but definitely smelled of old southern money.
The grounds were gorgeous. The miles of green. The interesting footprints of history sprinkled throughout the endless walkways and stops along this wonderful property.
But with every positive, there is an equalizing negative. There is a forward and a backward. There is a winter to every summer. A north for every south. An ounce of love for every ounce of hate. And what I experienced next, truly shook me to the core. I get emotional again, trying to create this post and trying to do the next piece of this story justice. I fear that no matter how pure my intentions are, no matter what words I choose, it just won’t be enough.
It is one thing to read about slavery. We read books. We read blogs. We see marches. We see injustices. We listen and we learn, I hope anyway, that we learn. I have read many novels about that time. About this place. Being a white woman, it is impossible for me to understand. Impossible. I remember standing in the crowd eager to walk through this mansion. The original furnishings were inside. It defied reality. And reason. And I remember feeling physically ill over it, knowing what was outside just a few hundred yards away. It was hot and I felt ill. It felt smothering. Beautiful, yes. But I felt like I was being suffocated. Get me some air!!! I lasted one room, didn’t even get upstairs and had to get out. I just couldn’t breathe. My mind was filled with visions of fancy balls, and gorgeous dresses with hoops and food and drink for days. But my mind kept being pulled to the area a few hundred yards away.
I knew I had to go. I knew I had to see. I knew I had to walk through those doorways and FEEL the anguish and fear. The confusion and pain. But also the incredible sense of unity, of family, and of faith. All in the slave quarters.
The Slave Quarters
There is no way with my mere and lame verbiage, that I can do this experience the justice it deserves. I can only describe what I saw. What I felt. And how it affected me. That is all I can do.
The slave quarters were heart wrenching. Simple. Preserved. Disturbing. But real. I took my time. I walked up makeshift steps and crooked wooden doorways. I stood in the middle of one roomed “homes”. My eyes traveled slowly across the floors. Over the walls. I sat in the chairs. I looked at every little detail. Every one. And I walked through every single one. My fingers ran across the bricks. I felt the ghosts. They lingered in the air. Hung there like the heavy feeling you have in your head after a good cry.
I spent a lot of time here. Alone. I was separated from mum and sister. I cannot fully describe the cold and almost painful chill that repeatedly crawled up my spine. Simple is an understatement. It was bare minimal survival. I sat on one of the beds for what seemed like forever. I pictured too many people in this small cramped space. I imagined being thankful for something hot to eat, made in a big iron pot on an open fireplace. I imagined too many bodies cuddled on this rock hard bed I sat on covered by a blanket of some kind. I thought of winters where the bitter cold must have traveled through the ill-fitting wooden door. I thought of how safe this oddly comforting room probably felt to those that lived here. Perhaps died here. Bore babies here. Raised children here. It was safe in here. But not outside that door.
And a few hundred yards away. The endless food, and drink, and fancy ballroom dresses with hoops.
Warm tears, and lots of them, rolled down these cheeks of mine. I am not sure why I felt pangs of guilt. I have never been one to feel separated by skin color. I have always looked at heart. And character. So, this whole experience clashed with that. Just clashed. Like a ten car pile up on the freeway.
I will not ever forget that day. Ever.
The Random South
Plenty of “random” in the south……with accents……..
Honesty and a Total Breakdown
I am not one to hide behind a curtain, and not every trip is rainbows and unicorns. It was my birthday and I just simply broke. Broke. Into a million pieces. I believe it was because of a few major life events over the past year and I just broke. Spent two days in bed. Felt hopeless. Cried two oceans worth. Didn’t eat. I worried my sister and mum so very much and for that I am very sorry. I got through it. Worked hard when I got home, and am happy to say I’m good. I did salvage the rest of the week. I guess life happens. Life happened.
And a Broken Arm.
I wish I had a great story for you. But I didn’t jump in front of the car to save the child. I didn’t save a kitten from a tree. And I didn’t slip on some amazing hike.
I tripped on a carpet. Yeah……that happened.
All in all, it was a great trip. Loved it for the most part. Learned a lot. Brought a few memories I will tuck away in my back pocket and keep forever. Our girls trip. We learned a lot about each other, some good, some bad, but all real. The bottom line here is family. You either are born with a good one, or you create your own, but it’s family.
And after just one week. The food, the quilting bizarre (me? at a quilting bizarre? Who would have thought that?) the coast, trolleys, a broken arm and a major emotional collapse, feeling ill at being white in a southern mansion, and spending quality time with the ghosts of my brothers and sisters of the past, we came home to this.
Daughter, dad, brother, brother-in-law, nephew, family friend, from 3 different cities, and we landed after 9pm, with signs and flowers and hugs all around.
Now THAT is what I call blessed!
Hope you enjoyed my post on the South. I didn’t expect it to be more than a week without work in a nice place, but came away a better person. And for that? I am truly thankful.
Until next time……..be kind………always,