One Year in Charleston

Here I am flying back to Charleston from New York after a surprisingly restful Thanksgiving week. 
Fergus has finally settled into the flight and has his little head tucked into my lap and I just finished reading the wonderful, rhythmic epistles of Charleston's most famous female artist, Elizabeth O'Neill Verner. Paul gave me her book, Mellowed by Time and it is a new favorite I shall send to anyone eager to know about my new home town. 

Speaking of - I just realized on the flight that it has been a year and two days since I bought 118 Spring Street! I'll never forget the surreal joy of that first night in the house with Rodrigo helping me clean out the front garden and Claire, Abigail and Marco coming over that night with champagne to celebrate. We popped corks off the piazza, danced around the house and tipsily explored the attic to find a petrified mouse and random empty old boxes. What joy that was. 

The home has come so far in a year. I am so proud of how it has developed both inside and out. The gardens are exploding, even in the fall, and a brick terrace is getting laid in a week. Even the awful grubs that have invaded my grass I so lovingly planted haven't ruined it all. 

The interior is about to experience it's first Christmas and boy is it going to dazzle! It all started with an innocent trip to Michael's to buy a styrofoam wreath and dried Spanish moss to make a wreath Boykin found on Pinterest. Upon arriving I was bowled over by the Christmas decoration already on display. After 15 years in New York I was shocked and amazed to find gold glitter reindeer for $11 and jeweled peacocks for $15. Those would be about $50 at Bergdorfs. (Yes yes I know, why shop at Bergdorfs for decorations? Well it's an annual tradition with my neighbor Lucy to have lunch there and then purchase one ornament. This year it was a shiny horse head in honor of Clyde who passed away this year. 

I digress... The copious and well priced decorations sent me into a fevered frenzy and before I knew it I had a buggy piled high with glittering decor for the house. I had completely forgotten that Fergus was with me (he just glides along wherever I go) until a woman in the long line at check out asked me amusingly, 'Did you do that on purpose to your dog?' I looked down puzzled and realized that Fergus was bedazzled in glitter from snout to tail! He had been treading under all those glorious fake glittery plants and accumulated quite the sparkle. 

The next highlight occurred at check out. The sweet cashier was gingerly wrapping my new festive menagerie in tissue and looked up and said, 'You and your wife are going to have such fun decorating this year!' After my initial shock I rolled with it and said, 'Oh you have NO idea!' 

As soon as I get back to the house today the new garlands I bought from Front Gate are getting hauled out of the attic (where another deceased mouse may be discovered) and will be hung on the piazza tonight to light up Spring street. I bet this home hasn't had garlands in some time and I'm eager to see how they look from across the street as the sun sets and they light up the side of my home. 

Tomorrow I will head out to buy a tree and the decorating will be in full force. I just shipped a big box of family decorations from Harlem to Charleston. I don't know how they got left behind but there was slight pandemonium when I moved last March. 

In the new year the house will undergo phase two of renovations. There shouldn't really be a phase two but since Anthony skipped out on me I have some renovation work to finish. The floors in the master bedroom were never complete so Chuck and John will work on those as well as adding a hearth to the fireplace in the master and completing the guest bathroom. It all is for the best since they take such pride in their work and we do it as a team unlike before where I would come home and the workers would have done things before I had a chance to give input. I'm sure when all that is done there will be new projects we think of but for now this is more than enough to manage and budget. 

As for a year in Charleston, well it has been more amazing than I could ever imagine. I still get misty eyed at certain sunsets, I have met more magical people than I knew existed and I have proudly stood my ground with those I've found tiresome and small minded. It's really been a shock to meet young gay men who are proud of the Confederacy. Would they say that to the black girls they call 'girlfriend' at the bar? When one young man told me, 'but they have MLK day!' I simply got up and left the table. I might remind these young men that they would have most likely been lynched back in 1860 for poking their sword in the wrong end of the cannon.

Regardless, I guess it is to be expected in a small Southern town. But what I did not expect was the number of people I have met who I already consider old, dear friends. It's refreshing to talk about tides instead of trends. How wonderful to have friends who remind me to spend time under the full moon for a moon bath or invite me over to their grand old homes for silly puppy play dates. Roller Disco with the congregation from Grace church was hysterical. To top it off, the DJ is also the minister there (who is now a fun friend as is his gorgeous wife). I love discussing Preservation and ferns and popcorn trees while strolling around this incredible little town. 

I've been known to go to bed at 930 and wake up at 6 to take Fergus to the beach or White Point Gardens on The Battery where he plays ball with Charleston's most pure bred dogs and owners. But there are no Wall Streeters here yelling into their phones or Mommies in Louboutins more concerned with their appearance than their dogs. No, these are people who have money but can roll on the ground with their Boykin or laugh out loud when Fergus flips out over a squirrel. The only difference is that lovely old inherited string of pearls or signet ring glittering off the early morning sun distilled through the tall old palms. 

One quote that has stuck with me from ole Beth Verner's book is one she said to a New York reporter when he was down here ages ago asking how she doesn't go mad over such a slow pace of life. Her response, "What is the use of hurrying when one is where one wants to be?"