For the past two years or so, my mom and I had been talking about a Savannah vacation. I'd wanted to go ever since I read Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil probably around 15-ish years ago. My mom had friends that had gone and loved it. We're both into Southern and historical and I wanted to institute an annual family vaction and it just made sense. However, even though we kept talking about it, it just wasn't happening. So this year was my 40th birthday, and when my husband, the best husband in the world EVAR, asked me what extra-special gift I would like for this landmark birthday, I said I wanted to take my mom to Savannah for her birthday/Mother's Day (the two are days apart). I'm sure that he was expecting me to say that I wanted to go to Alinea, because that was my previous plan. Because he loves me, and he loves my Mom, he said yes.
And so we went.
I've had life-changing vacations before. The first time I tagged along with my Dad to Dragon-Con in my 20's, I had this big epiphany about independence and travel and where my life was at the time and it was my first realization that I could do things on my own. The first time I went to Burning Man in 1998, tagging along with my ex-boyfriend and company (Dox included) to a strange event in the desert that I knew nothing about -- the Leave No Trace, art for art's sake, love-of-fire-preformance ethic left it's mark and I think I enjoyed it more that anyone else that went. I got involved with the local Burning Man group, started fire-spinning, attended a slew of regional events, and went back twice with Dox in 1999 and 2000.
I'd already been thinking about a Master's degree, and I'd looked at the Savannah College of Art and Design's online program, been tempted, and talked myself out of it because of the cost. I love being in school, and if I could afford it, I'd be a perpetual student. However, since I'm not good at making that make sense monetarily, I'd decided against it. However, the first day that we spend in Savannah, I decided that if nothing else, I was moving there for a year. A Master's degree was a good excuse to do it, so that's what I would move there for. I'm from North Carolina, and whenever I've gone back to the South to visit, there's something odd that happens -- it feels sort of like relaxing, or suddenly being able to take a deep breath when I couldn't before. I feel like I'm home.
We moved to Lake Geneva, WI when I was 10. I just turned 40, so I've now lived the majority of my life in the North, but I've never stopped thinking that somehow, some way, I'd end up back South again. I hate the cold. HATE it. It gets into my bones and makes me feel like a shadow. Every year, around February or March, I feel like there must be something wrong with me because I feel so tired all the time and maybe I should go to the Doctor. But then the sun come out, and suddenly it's 80+ and humid and I feel like a human being again. When it's 90+ here and everybody in Chicago is miserable, I feel alive. Unfortunatly, Dox was born and raised in Chicago, loves it, and is not a soul that adjusts well to change. We'd visited New Orleans years ago and agreed on it as a potential relocation spot, but Katrina happened, and graphic design jobs are scarce there, and so we kind of let it drop. There wasn't any other place that seemed like a good option.
And then we went to Savannah. I told him that in a few years I was going to move there and get my Masters. It could be a temporary thing where he could stay in Chicago and I could visit on break and then move back when I was done, or he could come with me, but either way, I had to do it. I had to live there. It was beautiful and hot and 15 minutes from the ocean and I HAD TO LIVE THERE. I felt it in my bones. I didn't think he would do it, but he agreed. We're going to take four years to get our finances in order -- get out of debt, pay down our mortgage, save some money -- and then we're going to move. We'll keep our condo here for a year, rent it out, see how it goes down there, let me get my Master's degree. If we like it we stay. If we don't, we come back or go elsewhere. If we disagree -- well, we'll cross that bridge when we get to it.
I can't wait.
As far as our Savannah vacation went, it was fabulous. My mom was ecstatic. All of us had a great time. My recommendations for can't miss spots:
- Mrs. Wilkes Dining Room. A buffet of traditional Southern food to die for, and the only biscuit that has ever challenged my favorite best-ever North Carolina gas station biscuit (I don't remember the gas station, but the biscuit was AMAZING). It's an experience, and it's worth the wait. Get there early.
- Alligator Soul. They'll tell you that the Old Pink House and Elizabeth's are the best restaurants in Savannah. We didn't make it to Elizabeth's, but I like Alligator Soul a little bit better than the Old Pink House. Check them all out if you can, but if you want contemporary Southern dining, don't miss this restaurant.
- Leopold's. It lives up to the hype. Really. Go there.
- Chocolat by Adam Turoni. Delicious! I kept a secret stash in my desk at work that I worked through very slowly. This is chocolate that's meant to be savored.
- The Crab Shack on Tybee. Okay, my impression of Tybee Island is that it has a very college spring break kind of feel, but that could have been the time of year that we were there. I loved it -- it's a beach on the ocean and I can ignore the drunk college students -- but everybody else in our party, not so much. However, the Crab Shack was laid back and the seafood was inexpensive and fabulous -- everybody had a great time. They even had a decent wine list, and there were kittehs everywhere. What's not to love?
- Lulu's Chocolate Bar. Part neighborhood bar, part dessert nirvana. I tried a chocolate truffle and the specialty chocolate martini, and both were amazing.
- Soho South Cafe. It's like having lunch in an artist's loft. The service is as slow as the reviews say it is, but who cares? Relax and enjoy the artsy atmosphere!
1,371 days to go. I. Can't Wait.