Jake hit the road two hours ago. This morning, we packed his car full of stuff. He surprised me with tiger lilies, artfully arranged in an empty Macallan 12 bottle from his birthday. We shared a five minute hug. I cried melted, black mascara on his sweatshirt, and after a couple “I love you’s,” I shoved him out my front door for fear of a total meltdown.
This isn’t the end of the world. He’s just heading to Phoenix to get ready for his new job, to find us a house, and to settle in, before flying back to Charleston in three weeks to pick me up and do the drive west once more. It just felt like the end of the world, because we’ve never been apart for three weeks. It also felt strange, walking around his house this morning, one last time. His house—the place where we built a relationship. Where we spent so many nights making dinner together. So many mornings watching ESPN. So many moments laughing and looking toward a future.
Jake’s house in Charleston is just a place. Charleston, South Carolina, is just a place. However, it’s strange leaving the places we know. Leaving a place is like leaving a person—you have to touch the doorknobs, look out the windows, and hug the garage door, because it will be a long time (or perhaps, forever) before you see that place again. In the spirit of saying farewell to Jake’s house, I now have approximately three weeks to say farewell to Charleston. In homage, I have made the following list: Top Ten Things to do Before I Leave Chucktown.
1. DONE: Walk the Battery. I walked the Charleston Battery within four hours of moving here a year and a half ago, and it had a lot to do with my immediate infatuation with the place. Jake requested to do the same once more before heading west. We did it the other day, which is where the pretty pics in this entry come from.
2. DONE: Pralines at River Street Sweets on the Market. Walking down Market Street, you can smell praline. They make ‘em fresh, right in front of you, at River Street Sweets, and they give you samples—warm, sweet, succulent, DECADENT. I dare you to have more than one.
3. DONE: Oyster shooters at Pearlz, East Bay. I feared oysters until I moved to Charleston. Now, I’m obsessed. The oyster shooters at Pearlz are made with Absolut Peppar, cocktail sauce, fresh ground pepper, and a raw oyster. I will have as many of these as my body is able within the next three weeks.
4. DONE: She Crab Soup at Mistral, Market Street. She Crab Soup is a Lowcountry thing, just like New England Clam Chowder is an east coast thing. It’s rich, it’s heavy, it’s terrible for you, and it’s a must-have. Mistral is not only a charming restaurant—it has the best She Crab Soup in town.
5. Burger at Poe’s Tavern, Sullivan’s Island. Poe’s will put anything on a burger, from guacamole, to chili, to egg, to goat cheese. Go get one, medium rare, and have a Corona while you think about the beach, a block down the road.
6. DONE: Beach walk at sunrise, Sullivan’s Island. Speaking of beach, I was once scared of the ocean. Now, I know leaving the ocean will be the hardest part about leaving Charleston. I will miss the smell, the sound, and the feel of the waves. It’s gonna be rough turning my back on the sea.
7. Glass of wine at Social, East Bay. I love the smell of Social. I love the lighting. I love the wine list. I have spent many, MANY nights at the Social bar. I have built many memories there. I need just one more.
8. Dollar on the wall at Griffon, Vendue Street. Griffon is a pub, off the beaten path. I’m a regular. Dollar bills cover the walls, ceilings, doorways, and windowpanes. Patrons have hung these dollar bills, after adding their own personal touches. Jake put one up before he left for Phoenix. I already have one on the walls, too—added when a good friend of mine from Ohio came to visit. I need to add another one, saying farewell to this Holy City.
9. Manhattan at Charleston Grill, featuring Quentin Baxter, King Street and Market. I’m a whiskey fan; I’m a jazz fan. Therefore, I just gotta head to Charleston Grill one more time for a Maker’s Mark Manhattan and for Quentin Baxter’s jazz drum.
10. Bar dancing, Market Street Saloon. I like dancing on bars. Got a problem with it?
So. I’ve already completed two of these tasks. More to follow, as the Exodus continues. Wish me luck. Now, it’s just me. I will be Jake-less for the next three weeks as the adventure rolls on.