Zoe was born almost four years ago. Since she arrived, Charles and I had not had a single full weekend away, by ourselves, and now that Zoe's a champ at sleepovers with her grandparents, we figured it was time.
And Stephen King giving the closing address at the Savannah Book Festival was cause enough to book the hotel room, line up our parents for childcare, and hit the road...all two-hours-worth of them.
It was blissful. It was fun. The weather was way better than we anticipated, giving us a lot more time outdoors in the city.
Savannah is fairly cool, we discovered. Not the staid, sleepy place I encountered once on a day-trip, nor the totally crazy party place I found one Saint Patrick's day a dozen years ago (they do still party for the holiday, but it wasn't like that this weekend).
Here are some snippets of our trip.
The road between Charleston and Savannah is mighty pretty in some places, kind of creepy in others. It's the kind of path that runs through salt marsh at its most lovely, and trailer parks at other times. Sometimes, a trailer sits alone in a field, next to nothing, rusting, falling down, and I wonder: Who lives there? What are they doing in that little home. I like to make up stories about he inhabitants: a single-mother who works nights to pay for that little trailer, an ex-millionaire who blew his savings gambling in Monte Carlo and became a miser out in the sticks. A Thoreau wannabe who just wants to return to nature.
It's almost like going through a time warp, and a socio-economic one.
We stayed in a hotel on the river, and it was dim and old and pretty. The hallways were slanted; the bricks were crumbling; the elevator was so crotchety that it tried to eat me more than once.
Our room had a four-poster bed and a view of the street below. The first night, I was kept awake for hours by someone leaning on a car horn outside our window, but the second night I managed to sleep through fireworks that Charles said shook the whole room.
The food we found was hit-or-miss. We made reservations at a fancy place which came up short. The omelet I ate at a bakery we stumbled upon after an hour-long quest for brunch was delicious. The French Onion Soup I ate as a snack at one of our hotel's three restaurants? It was divine.
We waited in line to buy books to get signing cards to actually meet Stephen King. The rules of the festival stated that no lines could form in front of the theater prior to noon, so we planned to meet up with our friends, Layne and Anna, at 11:30. Mr. King wouldn't speak until 3:00.
At 10:15, Charles's cell phone rang.
"Hey, man," Layne said. "We just drove by the theater. People are lining up on the other side of the street already."
So we checked out of our hotel and made a run for it.
The line was filled with devoted King fans. One couple brought their boys, ages 2 and 6, in homemade "Stephen King's Littlest Fans" t-shirts, which was cute, until hours into the waiting game, when the 2 year old started to lose it. I felt bad for the little man; he was overtired, overstimulated and also bored. I'd have melted down, too, were I only 2.
There was a man with a mullet, the back of which was tied into a braided ponytail. He was that guy. You know the one. The loud one who had to tell everyone he'd gotten there first, but had left to get a snack and wasn't going to pitch a fit about the fact that he wasn't first in line (while simultaneously pitching a fit about the fact that he wasn't first in line). Who had to open the door to his shiny black pick-up twenty times, while boasting about how nice it was to have it right there, you know, right?
There was the nice lady from Florida who decided we were her new friends. She has pictures of us, actually, on her digital camera which died shortly thereafter. She was on her own, aside from us, and had a lot to say about life, smoking, drinking, and the economy. I grew weary of her by the end (four hours later), but really, she was sweet. Quirky. Entertaining.
We all waited for hours, first on one side of the street, then on the other, dreading rain which luckily never came. When the sun came out, the group gave a collective sigh of relief, and people began peeling off layers. Soon the street was littered with rain coats and umbrellas, and we all headed inside to see a living writing legend.
More on that later.