This morning finds me in downtown Charleston to work on a freelance assignment, and with some time to kill, I set up camp in my new favorite mobile office, "Baked" on East Bay Street. Light and airy with huge windows, deliciously evil sweets and piping hot cappuccino's, there is a long wooden table in the side room with a gorgeous old book case and a fat stack of Charleston City Papers. Stress seems to melt away under the cool of the air-conditioning ducts while the caffeine goes about its business. No matter how much writing or editing I do, taking on a new project never fails to give me butterflies. Each project is a unique beast, some beautiful, some masterful, some twisted and broken, some stilted and sad, some regretfully, beyond hope.
But sitting here, just the sight of the palmettos against the blue sky and old brick buildings makes me feel that the world is bigger. Charleston is older, and she has seen worse, she whispers, with a wink. Wars, famine, plague, revolutions, revolts, I know she means. My butterflies are laughable, in light of these things, in light of the footprints left on these streets. If every city has a certain pull, and I believe they all do, I wonder how Charleston chooses her residents. New York has a power buzz that's difficult to ignore. New York vibrates with energy, possibility, and the sheer throngs of humanity all there to carve out their own private piece of the American dream. Sticking out toward the ocean and surrounded by two rivers, I chuckle sometimes to note the sheer geographic similarities between the two places -- my old home and my new one. Charleston too, is a peninsula, with ocean, surrounded by rivers. And here in Charleston, people are carving out their dreams too -- but they involve, I think, a good restaurant, a watercolor of the beach, a community pool, home owners fees, maybe a plot of land big enough to plant a few vegetables, and floating in the silty ocean.
Sitting here I watch fellow residents milling on the street, I watch the tourists pass by with their hawaiian shirts and straw hats, watch a sparrow climb the spiky innards of a palmetto tree, and I wait, hoping one of these perfect Charleston mornings, she'll reveal to me at last why she has called me here.