May 30, 2013
When I returned home from Afghanistan, I expected that life, my family, and my backyard would welcome me with open arms. Instead, I was greeted with snow, more snow, and work out the wazoo. But I had hope! In April, my husband, Max, and I were to meet friends in Savannah, Ga., where our daughter, Emily, has been working. It would be lovely in Savannah!
When Emily went to graduate school at the Savannah College of Art and Design, we were thrilled because that meant that we would be able to spend time with her in one of the loveliest cities I have ever visited. And we have done that. Two or three times each year since 2011, we have experienced Savannah, enjoying the weather, the palm trees, the beach and the food. Oh! And, of course, our daughter’s company.
Right before our April trip, though, Emily surprised us with news of her new job in Little Rock, saying that her last day in Savannah would be the day Max and I were to head home. So instead of enjoying a relaxing long weekend, Max and I had a semi-relaxing vacation and the honor of loading up the Budget truck and trekking cross-country, bringing our daughter closer to home, but away from the city we have grown to love.
We bade adios to Savannah’s little city pocket parks. Savannah was designed on a grid, so that every so often, north-south traffic flow is disrupted by a park square, and vehicular traffic must slow down, allowing drivers and passengers to feast their eyes on live oak trees draped with Spanish moss, eight-foot tall azalea bushes, palm trees, statues of war heroes or those who brought religion to the area, tourists taking part in walking tours, and park benches filled with people either begging, playing some sort of musical instrument, or just sitting and taking it all in.
We said a final goodbye to Leopold’s, the ice cream shop that has the best pimiento cheese sandwich I have tasted in a long time.
We bemoaned leaving behind Local Eleven Ten, the Sapphire Grill, and, our favorite, Alligator Soul, all fabulous downtown restaurants serving locally grown or harvested food in elegant style in interesting venues — “Local,” as the natives call it, is in an old bank, Sapphire Grill’s home looks like an old warehouse, and Alligator Soul is in a building’s basement. Though the ambience of each is enjoyable, the food is even more so.
I still salivate when I think of the seared scallops and grits served by chef Chris DiNello at Alligator Soul, and the grilled grouper we had at Local. Matt, the “mixologist” at Sapphire Grill, and his tasty Moscow Mule, mixed with his homemade ginger beer, will soon be only fond memories instead of a feeling of eager anticipation.
We became morose when we realized that we had eaten for the last time at the Crab Shack, our one homage to being tourists. The Crab Shack is located toward Tybee Island, and we originally went there on a tip from someone here in Sedalia. The place is kitschy, and the food, served on paper plates, is fabulous — fresh and not fried. But best of all, diners can eat outside under huge banyan trees, and each table is outfitted with a roll of paper towels and a hole in the table’s center so that all shells can be conveniently and efficiently discarded.
We will miss all those things, along with walking on the beach at Tybee Island, taking walking tours with Savannah Dan, dinner at Circa 1875, and sitting by the river, watching the cargo ships go in and out.
I feel as if much of the past three months has been filled with saying goodbye — to Kabul, where I’ll never go again; to my friends there, with whom my only contact will now be electronic; and to Savannah, the city I have loved. But soon I will be ready to love again, and I’m sure that Little Rock will worm its way into my heart. I can hardly wait.