I'm visiting my Uncle Bill in Savannah, Georgia through the weekend. And mah gahd, these folks have accents. My Uncle Bill's lived down here for 8 years. He paints, he talks to strangers, he's really into his dog. And so this year for my birthday, my folks hooked me up with a flight to the Deep South.
I left SFO long before dawn, and my flight to Atlanta was boring, but uneventful. I read every single word of last month's Vanity Fair, watched a Cold Case Files and whaddaya know? I was in Georgia.
Atlanta's airport requires one to take a tram everywhere, and this is really fine with me. After all, I'm in constant training for my big break on the Amazing Race. But my uncle doesn't have kids, and he doesn't think of me being old. As far as he was concerned, his 12 year old niece was earning her Delta wings in the big scary airport.
Bill kept calling and I kept reassuring him. "It's fine. Everything's fine. I've just got to catch my connecting flight so I need to get off the...yeah. I know where to go. It's...I can do this. Really. I've flown domestically before."
I made my way to Gate T07 and waited to board. I always request a window seat, not because I care about views. But because I hate it when folks shimmy past me. I'd rather be the shimmier and have them hate me. And there, in the aisle seat of this tiny plane, was my gigantic, chatty seatmate. I generally feel like the biggest person ever to live, and this sweet woman dwarfed me significantly. I both loved and hated it.
I shimmied past her and into my seat.
"Are you from Savannah?!?!" She gushed, smiling at me as our arms and asses got to know each other.
Oh. Terrific. A talker.
She took the hint and read her big Savannah guidebook. I stared out the window wondering if Atlanta's wind and rain might prove a problem.
"Hay there folks, this is yur pah-lit..." It became clear we'd have a little bit of a wait. I called my Uncle Bill, and explained the weather situation. He took the news relatively well, but I realized I'd opened myself up.
"So you called your friend?"
"You're visiting your uncle?"
"Where are you from?"
And we were off! I know everything about her. I know about her kid, her 22nd anniversary dinner (she missed it), her husband, her hobbies, her career (from which she retired 4 years ago), her carry-on bag that she made (including pockets for the absolute necessities) and that she loves Tootsie Rolls.
Before we got to anything really good (like abortions or dead ex-husbands) we were cleared for take-off and my headphones went on faster than she could say, "I'm allergic to peanu..."
Our 37 minute flight from Atlanta to Savannah was incredibly turbulent, something I do not handle well. I tend to grab the seat in front of me, close my eyes, and suddenly find the Lord.
"It's like a roller coaster!!!"
Tootsie Roll was trying to comfort me, but I didn't want comfort. I didn't want to make friends. I just wanted to get there alive.
Savannah moves slow. Really slow. I've been in a hurry all week, wrapping up my shit so I could sneak out for 4 days and suddenly, trying to order a venti with a double shot at the Savannah airport was a 15 minute process, involving anecdotes and rhetorical questions asked aloud.
Bill was standing on the curb and whisked me off to his home, past stately mansions and scenes from Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. When he pointed out Forrest Gump's bench, I finally relaxed and started to enjoy myself.
Bill home is gorgeous! I mean it. It's surprisingly funky. In an adorable neighborhood with the standard Spanish moss hanging from every tree, there's a screened in porch and a themed bathroom. Every wall is a different, bold color and beautifully framed art hangs from every open surface. Even doors hold framed vintage photographs of my grandparents or guilded old paintings I vaguely recall from my childhood. Rugs and sculptures and carvings...it's all very thought-out and history-filled.
Folks just kinda started showing up as we arrived from the airport. Bill's planned a big party on Saturday night and a young preppy couple stood in front of the house. "Y'all want any barbecue for Saturday?"
A tattooed woman in funky glasses emerged from the porch. "Hey! You're back! Sorry, I just swung by to see where y'all were sitting at the baseball game tonight."
I cleaned myself up and sat with Bill on that popular porch, waving hello to every single person that walked past. It's just like a movie, this charming neighborhood and all these people in their faded khaki shorts and flip flops and accents.
I luxuriate in ecstasy at these heavenly accents.
Bill's next door neighbor, Gene came by to apologize for "missin' Saturday" and mentioned that his band would be 'ovah latah' for practice. Gene would be terrific cast as the unemployed, disbarred and salty best friend in a John Grisham movie.
Four of Bill's friends were over for the minor league baseball game at 7. We walked the 50 steps from Bill's porch to the ballpark and settled into our seats with boiled peanuts and people-watching far better than any sport I've seen. The Savannah Sand Gnats were playing the West Virginia Power, and by the 5th inning, it had started to rain. We ran back to Bill's place with Brian and Amy, a very friendly and funny couple and talked until the rain let up. Around 11, Bill popped out onto his porch as crowds of people migrated from his little neighborhood across the park to the stadium.
"What's the score?" Bill called out to them.
"Sco-ah? It's ain't ovah! The game's back on!"
Someone else shouted, "Par-tay!"
It seriously, truly, really exactly like the movie here.
I'm all set up in Bill's painting studio, he's purchased more Diet Coke than I've ever seen in my life and I can hear thunder and raindrops and Gene's band.
Oh, yeah. And it's midnight...