Once we returned from New York, Jessica and I picked up where we left off in Atlanta. We hopped in our Jeep (still doing a great job!) and headed to our next stop at a very familiar place for me; Charleston, South Carolina.
I spent a lot of time in Charleston when I was a child. My Aunt, on my mother’s side, lived there and we spent most of our major holidays with her family. It’s a beautiful city in a beautiful part of the country.
It’s also a very historic city, and you know how that jazzes me. It has a past which is stained by the history of slavery but encouraging by its rebirth after the Civil War. That’s what people most recall of it, but it is so much more. Perfect? Of course not. But rich with both warnings of our darkest nature along with aspirations for a better future. Yes, we could get into all that in detail and have a lively debate, but that’s not what we’re going to do right now.
This was a chance to see some of my relatives, some old friends, and to show Jessica a bit of my own history.
We got into the city late on the first day, but we had enough time to have dinner with an old friend of mine and his family. None other than that Screenwriter/Producer/Author Tom Blomquist, who moved to Charleston from Los Angeles a few years ago. After checking into our hotel, we headed over to Tom’s house and went out to eat with him, his wife Anne, and his daughter Katie.
I have to pause here to mention that I first met Katie when she was small enough to be held in two hands. She has grown to be an incredible and giving person. She founded an organization called “Going Places” as a fundraiser for children of low-income schools, providing kids with things like bicycles and the basic joys of childhood most of us take for granted. Here’s a link to the organization, it’s well worth a look.
Dinner was at Crave, a place that features Macaroni and Cheese. Not just as an item on the menu, it was ALL about the Mac and Cheese. Chicken with Mac and Cheese; Shrimp with Mac and Cheese; Short Ribs with Mac and Cheese; Scallops with Mac and Cheese. If you know anything about Jessica, this resulted in a physical experience that, I admit, I’ve never been able to give her.
We had a great time, catching up on old times and listening to Tom trying to convince Jessica it wasn’t too late to get out of the marriage. I hadn’t talked to Anne in a long, long time, so it was good to see her again.
The next day Tom picked us up from our hotel in Mount Pleasant and took us on a tour of the city. Now, as stated, I’m kind of an old timer there, so I know a lot of the history. Jessica, however, not as much, so Tom did a great job giving her the lowdown. And, in fact, he threw in a few things that I was unaware of, including a house which had a plaque that referenced my hometown of St. Augustine (the English of Charleston and the Spanish of St. Augustine did not have a friendly relationship back then).
Tom has obviously fallen in love with his new home and well he should! He enthusiastically pointed out buildings and points of interest. As you will see in the one of the photos, I saw more of his pointing finger than I did of the points of interest. We had a wonderful time.
The next day, we headed over to see my cousins. But not until after Jessica and I got divorced.
Actually, I took off my wedding ring for an entire day. Because it was trying to kill me.
To explain: when we got married, we used my parent’s rings. Jessica has my mother’s engagement and wedding ring. I am wearing my father’s wedding band. However, when I first put it on, I was twenty pounds heavier. It fit (my father was taller and bigger than me). But as I started to lose weight before the trip, it became looser on my finger. To the point that it slipped off my finger more than once and if I hadn’t been paying attention, I would have lost it. So before we left, we decided to get it resized. Afterward it fit snugly on my finger. I was a little concerned that there might be problem as we headed to the east coast as the humidity tends to make you swell a bit (something that every costumer on a TV show in Florida is well aware of when dealing with Los Angeles actors). I was correct. I was more than correct. I was so correct that my finger started to go numb and change color.
What to do? Easy. Since we were going to be in Charleston for three days, we’d just get it adjusted at a local jewelry store. We found one and visited it. Initially, they said they’d have to keep it for a few days. That wouldn’t work for us, obviously. The person we were talking about asked to wait a moment and took the ring into the back. She returned a few minutes later and said she asked the jeweler if he could stretch it a bit. So he tried.
And he broke it. Yep. Broke my dad’s ring. Snap.
But all was not lost. She immediately said they would take care of it if we could leave it with them overnight. So we did and, next morning, it was back to its shiny self. And resized! But for 24 hours, I was single and ready to flamingle! (insert stony glare from Jessica here).
Just before we left Charleston, we went to visit with my family of course. As I had mentioned, I spent a lot of time in Charleston with my Aunt Virginia and her family. Her son, Dean, moved to Los Angeles and, in fact, he and his wife allowed me to stay with them until I could find a place back in 1980. Her daughter, Jean, stayed in Charleston after marrying Lance (a great addition to the family!). Their son Corey was there as well, though Justin wasn’t able to make it. It was really nice to be there with them. As you know, my immediate family is all gone now. But being with the close relatives that I spent my holidays with really put a smile on my face.
After that, we were on the move again. Where were we headed? West. That’s all we knew in the moment; we were headed west. Time to start the second half of the trip, across the northernish part of the country and back to Los Angeles. Where would we stop on the way?