This morning, I awoke early and greeted my friends—the few who'd arrived already—with hugs around the breakfast table. It was so joyous to be reunited with everyone again! Then Julia and I went for a walk on the beach, which was approximately a 20 seconds from our rental house by foot. The fact that it was overcast didn't matter. It was warm, and salty, and the ocean churned in and out with its healing waves.
In the late morning, a group of us headed into downtown Charleston for some sight-seeing. After wandering through the marketplace and purchasing some fabulous, locally-made body products, we eventually decided—after much waffling—to go on a horse-drawn carriage tour. It was expensive and the touristy thing to do, but it was also romantic and relaxing to go clip-clopping around town. It was nice to slouch in the shade with my dear friends and have historical landmarks and buildings explained to us.
Charleston is beautiful. I quickly found myself fascinated with the cobbled streets, historical buildings, and immense, reaching trees; I ached to stop for photographs at every turn. I vowed that after the carriage ride, we'd walk through the neighborhoods we'd seen too quickly. And so, when our tour came to an end and the pair of mules pulled back into their big red barn, our company split in two.
One group returned home for food and rest, and the other group—Seth, Lucy, Tyler and I, opted to stay in town. We decided we'd get lunch somewhere, then meander around on foot, snapping photographs of everything we'd previously sped by. Lunch at Henry's House was fabulous. The four of us sat on their rooftop terrace, enjoying being warm-ish and outside in December.
We were seated inches away from a loud speaker blaring music. While this could have been extremely annoying, we didn't find it to be so—they kept playing the best songs! As the four of us sang along loudly to Bohemian Rhapsody and other classics, I was shocked to find that everyone else pretended they weren't hearing any music at all. No toes tapping to Under Pressure, no murmuring the lyrics to Hotel California.
And it was then (one of many, many moments throughout the reunion) that my heart swelled with love and appreciation for my friends, my smart and funny friends who are joyful and creative, contagiously kind, and always willing to put themselves out into the world. I feel so lucky to have them in my life.
Following our long, leisurely late lunch, we meandered around Charleston in search of historical houses we'd seen on the carriage ride that had been decorated with displays of fruit as historically-accurate Christmas decorations. We didn't find the fruit houses that afternoon, but none of us really minded. It's such a gorgeous city (though it would be far more picturesque if they'd close the downtown off to cars).
There were types of trees I'd never seen before, languorously stretching out, all gnarled and reaching. There was twining vegetation, crumbling brick, marvelously textured gravestones, and narrow alleyways at every turn. It was wonderful. As we are wont to do, Tyler and I noticed details on all the houses, and gained a few ideas for our next house. Our favorite detail of the houses of Charleston? Flickering, gas-powered lanterns outside many homes. So cool!