Everyone told me I would love Savannah. Each time I mentioned my work was taking me there, I got the same enthusiastic response. I heard time and time again how romantic this city can be. I was a little nervous going there alone just at the time in my life when I am really feeling a desire for someone to love.
I arrived late on Thursday night and felt fortunate to have such a friendly driver to take me to my hotel in the heart of downtown. Once getting to the hotel I was welcomed by Southern charm in both the front desk attendant and the appearance of one of the city’s oldest hotels. My room was inviting and the bath called my name. After soaking my tired body, I climbed into a soft bed ignorant to the fact that upon waking my life would change forever.
After a quick trip to an empty hotel gym, I dressed and put foot to pavement to check out this so called romantic city. It did not take long for me to understand why so many people had said that. I have never been anywhere so enchanting. If I couldn’t feel the centuries old spirits in the old brick buildings, I would have believed this was a fabricated world meant to make you feel you were somewhere old and special. As I walked through the shaded streets, smiling faces met mine and passed warmth to me both by phrase and unspoken connection. I found hidden doorways, homes touched by loving detail, women who talked of years of friendship enjoying the warm January day. After trekking my way from one side of the historic district to the other, I felt a break was in order. With nowhere in particular to be, I hand picked some chocolates from a specialty shop and chose to enjoy them in one of Savannah’s many lovely squares. I lied down on a bench; the sun danced with the leaves of the giant live oaks above me. From across the square a deep, rich voice bellowed through the Spanish moss. The large trees block our view of one another, but I could picture him in my head. I remained still as I listened to him sing of memories I had no way of sharing. For a moment in time he competed with the nearby church bells, but overall filled the square with his sweet, haunting tunes. In time I felt drawn to him. I crossed the square and took up the bench next to him. “I knew you’d be back” he said to me. “I saw you walk by earlier this morning, and I wondered when you would find your way here.” After about a minute of my sitting there he interrupted his own sentence to say, “You’re a Virgo.” It wasn’t a question. And he was right. It turned out he was right about a lot of things. We sat together, and he shared with me tales of the places he had been, stories of the strong women who had raised him and the father he hardly knew. He talked about the things he had seen sitting on that same bench for almost a decade. All those who regularly passed that bench on their way to work or home greeted him with care and authenticity. He desired nothing from anyone and truly wanted to connect and pass along the love inside of him. During my time with him he offered glimpses of a life I’d never known in between lyrics of songs I’d never heard. Somehow I could clearly see both play out before me. Time seemed to stop in that square, and I knew I was in the presence of something special. A light radiated around him and touched anyone who was nearby. His enlightened state was apparent from all of his stories, but this was my favorite. He told of a woman who approached him angrily upon hearing his lyrics singing of The Lord. “I don’t believe there is a God” she huffed at him. “Those are your beliefs. No one can take them away from you. The food you eat does not fill me. The water you drink does not sooth my throat.” he replied in the same calm, deep tone he used to relay the story to me. The most beautiful notion for the many different beliefs we all have in this world. I’ve never met anyone who wanted nothing from people but wanted everything for them in the way James did. I was sad when I had to leave him and hoped our paths would cross again.
I encountered many other wonderful people who showed me courtesy and hospitality and never asked for anything in return. Smiles were big and genuine. The city had a quiet magic about it that seemed to wrap every street lamp, sit on each porch and hang from all of the tree branches. Little flowers bloomed among great big leaves hard to see if you didn’t take the extra second to look. It felt as though minutes passed more slowly and each moment seemed to hold more weight. Flavors were bolder and the breezes softer. So much life gently pulsed around me. There was a subtle specialness about the city that would be easily missed if not given the chance to present itself.
I thought I would be sad to be there after everyone told me how romantic this city is, and I don't claim that they’re wrong, but I am actually really happy to have been there alone. I would be sad to miss the little things I experienced during my stay, which could not have been done had I not been in my own quiet presence. In all actuality, I have never been happier than I was on this trip.
My time in Savannah taught me that though there is a level of happiness that is introduced when you can share things with a partner, there is also a unique pleasure that comes from being content in one’s aloneness. This world is full of magical places, warm encounters and beauty that doesn’t require another set of eyes to see.