"I've much to do, Dawn," Brent had started his email. "Alack, I cannot focus. I can't think, Dawn. I've got Georgia on my mind."
Now, seven years after Brent sent that particular message, I, too, have Georgia on my mind.
There are the cobbled streets of Savannah's River Walk, which is aflutter with tourists, locals, and the bubbling of fountains. There is the Spanish moss that hangs from the trees like lace, swaying in the breeze, this way and that, giving breath to the oaks it decorates. And there's Bonaventure Cemetery, as curious and sinister as a Flannery O'Connor story.
But it isn't just Georgia that's on my mind.
After an eleven-day road trip that took Ty and Zoe and I through nine states and two time zones, I'm thinking of New Orleans and Memphis and Charleston, too. And I'm thinking of our quick jaunt through Asheville, where we missed our opportunity to stay at a place called The Mountaineer Inn, whose neon cowboy sign made Ty sigh regrettably, "Dude. Duuuuuuuuude."
Asheville was windy that night, and drizzly. We had spent the last seven hours navigating the moody Smoky Mountains, but were not dressed for the weather. And so we changed in the car, changed into jeans and flannel while hipsters with dalmatians strolled past us.
And New Orleans? A friend of Ty's had told us that New Orleans would smell of booze and piss, but that he wouldn't have it any other way.
"I'd still live there in a heartbeat," he'd said.
For the sake of our senses, though, we didn't encounter any atrocious odors. However, we'd been advised by a man we'd met in Mississippi to be careful.
"If yeh thin' someone is uh man, yeh prob'ly wrong," he had told us. "Yeh may thin' someone is uh woman, but they ain't uh woman! An' vice versuh!"
He'd told us that we'd see everything and everyone. And, sure, we did run into our fair share of characters in the French Quarter, but what I remember most are the street musicians, and the architecture, and the balconies, and the used bookstores where Ty and I stole kisses among stacks of books that smelled as if Kennedy were still in office.
I remember, too, the waves crashing arhythmically upon the South Carolina shore, bringing with them the scent of seaweed, salt, and dead crabs. And I remember laughing and gripping both Ty and Zoe's hands at the drag show in Savannah, yelling over the bass of an Arctic Monkeys song, "I can't be the only one who's slightly turned on by this, right?" And I remember, also, our nights in the hotels rooms, where we nursed beers and played drunken Chutes and Ladders. We made our own version of Apples to Apples, too, and stayed up, watching John Oliver and talking about feelings. And it's those late hours, when laughter brought us to tears and hyperventilation, that I never want to forget.