Thursday, January 15, 2015

A slow walk through a hot kitchen

                 On the list of things I would not recommend doing when landing in a brand new destination, is to get off the plane and skip dinner on your way to your New Years’ Eve celebration. “Heavy hors d’oeuvres included” can just mean so many different things. Apparently, at this lovely “social club” in Charleston, South Carolina where the husband and I had booked reasonable NYE tickets, “heavy hors d’oeuvres” simply meant two hours of all-you-can-eat raw oysters. While I used to think of raw oysters as the equivalent of slurping down snot, they are now actually a thing I have developed a taste for as a 30-something. So, I ate some.

Ok, I ate a lot....

          I figured; “Hey, these are full of protein for my hypoglycemic hand shaking”. I lost count at about oyster #8 or 9. Mind you, I did not stop there; I just lost count there. And what goes better with a small boatful of raw oysters on New Year’s than a glass of Rosé Brut? Fatal mistake, my friends. The husband, who is obviously infinitely more in touch with the bottom of his stomach than I, declined to eat more than 3 raw oysters without supplementing by ordering something else from the menu. So it stood at about 11:50, with the live music in full swing and the ball about to drop, that his Wagyu beef tartare was placed in front of us. That’s right; another pile of raw meat for me to contemplate. For those who know me, this would not normally be a problem. I usually request that my beef and lamb take "a slow walk through a hot kitchen", but this time... damn. With nothing but a pile of slimy gifts from the sea and bubbles having gone down my gullet, I thought I was going to vomit right there. I wish I could say that my nauseated New Year’s was caused by wild times, but alas, I am apparently past those. At any rate, after desperately ordering a glass of water, I did not end up throwing up at the bar, or at all in the end. For me, 2015 just came in riding several waves of queasiness. We were out of there and walking in the fresh air by 12:08.

          The husband and I really did have a great trip to Charleston though. We ambled down the prettiest little streets you’ve ever seen, full of cobblestones and scattered with charming porches. It was almost infuriating just how every little corner of the old town is so picture perfect, between the live oaks with the Spanish moss and the historic homes with the gaslights out front. You’d turn a corner and wonder; Where even are the ugly parts of this city? (We managed to find only one unattractive tube of a Holiday Inn on our way out of town.) In this way, the area really plays to my fantasies of living entirely in another time period. We woke up to church bells on Sunday morning, drank the hotel’s sherry offering, and strolled up lanes with architecture that only seemed to reach as far as the art deco period. And since it’s become such a foodie town, we ate updated Southern classics like hipster kings. It was splendiferous.

          For people who are over-extended, (of their own doing, of course), this was the perfect New Year’s Eve long weekend getaway, and just what we needed after the holiday rush. Our last vacation was in July and since we have both had overlapping singing gigs since then, we basically have been going non-stop for six months. So here is an interesting thing: Why were we both momentarily hung up on the like, two or three things we didn’t have time and/or energy for there? For example, I had wanted to go inside the home of the 19th century abolitionist sisters, Sarah and Angelina Grimké, whom I had recently read about in a historical fiction novel. (Incidentally, this is The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd, and it is beautiful and you should read it.) Alas, the home was closed by the time we got there on Saturday and not open the following day of our departure. B had wanted to see the Vietnam exhibit on the waterfront and one more tour where we had just walked through the USS Yorktown, but I was trying to get to the historic home. We just were trying to do too many things, which is very un-southern of us. And the bitch of it is, that had we not known those things existed, we wouldn’t have missed them at all, because we also toured a tea plantation and a historic rice plantation. And you never know what will surprise you as you go. So after my disappointment at the Grimké home being closed, it was on our second plantation tour that B discovered something. It was a building where a Reverend, who was the nephew of the Grimké sisters, and highly influenced by them, had taught the slaves on the plantation to read, which was illegal. Under the auspices of teaching them Bible studies, which was permissible by law, he taught all his "black roses", as he called them, to read! This, as you can imagine, had me all verkempt.

          The thing I constantly learn about travel is that no matter what, I will always feel enticed to go back, but I also know I likely can’t get back to every place I have already visited more than once. Life gets in the way and there are just some places you likely won’t have a chance to return to. This is both frustrating and beautiful. There is something really lovely about the impermanence of a fleeting moment. Maybe we will get back to Charleston and maybe we won’t. I’d like to get back to all the beautiful places I’ve been and fallen in love with, but new places also call… At any rate, we'll never need to go back to Charleston for their raw oysters. We've had our fill of those.