One thing is for certain: seafood in South Carolina is wonderful, and rivals Boston's clam chowder. Please don't think I am committing blasphemy. My tongue still dances when it touches that creamy soup.
Another thing for certain: it never hurts to ask the taxi driver for recommendations on restaurants. He dropped us at Hyman's, a family owned seafood restaurant, and we sat at a table with worn plaques, claiming Blind Melon once ate there and Phish ate fish at that table. Plates on the walls too. We spotted ones signed by Sarah Jessica Parker and her husband Ferris Bueller (I mean, Mathew Broderick).
Boiled peanuts. Soft but still salty. Strange on the tongue. And our meal, built for one: an appetizer of grits and scallops (I never thought grits could taste so good), Caesar salad, lobster bisque, and a trio: Jamaican Jerk shrimp, snow crab legs, and crab cakes. I'm not sure how much we spoke to one another during that meal, even though conversation came easily all the long weekend. The food was too good for our girl friends to be a distraction.
We drove to Charleston for the night, about three hours from Charlotte. This day, the heat was even more ornery, even more profuse.
The buildings were so striking--many houses had porches, and many of those porches were stacked on top of one another, painted balconies, some with loping ceiling fans. Church steps beckoned.
We wandered down to the harbor, seeking a breeze, finding enormous boats wending their way beneath striking bridges.
Palmettos lined the walkways, bark jutting like the ricochet of dry bones. This tree sprouted on license plates and postcards, the symbol of South Carolina.
If you look close enough, you can see a tiny crab scuttling along the sand. Like a little spider, skittering beneath rocks, avoiding unwanted attention.
I've always romanticized this kind of boat culture--the fishermen, the tightly knit sweaters (the thought of wool brings shudders in this pulsing humidity--sweaters, closer to Maine), the long docks, the sticky smell of sea salt.
And here are the ways to make each of us a little more irritated: for Nikki, it is the heat; for Chris, it is being hungry; for me, it is lack of sleep. We never snapped at each other, but respected those breaking points, and avoided that exhaustion that comes from being in constant company.
I think five days is a perfect amount of time to be away from home and with people who are not room mates. I could travel with The Fiance whenever and wherever (so I believe), but these girls I am not lucky enough to see on a regular basis. This could mean two things: we find that we clash, unable to find a way to tolerate each other, or, we could blend well, quietly, and with much ease.
I hope they do not disagree with me when I say we blended.
There was only one moment of discomfort, and it did not come from these two, but instead was when a man biked up to us, asking us if we had a cell phone because his seventeen month old daughter went into anaphalactic shock and he'd just biked fourteen miles... fortunately, my companions were quickly less gullible than me, and walked away, saying they had no phone. We were alone near the docks, our steps faster, my camera tucked away and clasped in my bag.
Again, it was an early night for us. We found ourselves at a place called the Roof Top Bar, where you are carded at a hotel (Vendue) entryway and take an ancient elevator three flights, which opens up to wooden steps and an outdoor bar. It was threatening to rain at this point, and moments after Nikki and Chris got a beer, there was a crack of lightening that indicated what would follow--the sky opening up with rain, the kind that drives people to shelter, little murmurs and those standing at the edge, watching it pelt down.
The three of us lounged in our pajamas, sipping beer from the corner fridge (I confessed to snuggling in my sleep, so I was able to sleep alone, and it's true--I am accustomed to curling up against The Fiance, and I sleep so deeply, I will confuse anyone next to me for him). We were roused from bed to the booming sound of fireworks, and leaned on the balcony (I startled and stuttered backwards, realizing I don't think zip lining will happen for me on this honeymoon if I cannot adapt to heights). A celebration in the sky.
15 hours ago