We spun a globe and waited for its rotation to slow. We prayed for our fingers to land on a spot we hadn’t yet thought of before ... somewhere unexpected.
Somewhere different from what we knew. A place to go to escape. To get away. From all of it ... the trials and the troubles. And of course, a place to play.
We decided to go south. As far as our budgets allowed.
Into the deep American South. Specifically, Georgia. Where it is humid and swampy and chalk full of history. To it’s beautiful and ghostly little city by the sea, Savannah.
We were young back then, my best friend and I. Young and naïve. And our troubles? They were nothing but microscopic, but to us, they felt like giants. We packed our bags, and flexed, preparing to lift these so-called troubles off of our youthful shoulders and proceeded to board a plane. And then another. And another.
Finally, we found ourselves walking in the heat of the day under strands of Spanish moss that hung from the branches of trees that I could not take my eyes off of. The trees you can only find in storybooks. And by this I mean the storybooks that speak of places deep, deep in the woods where you can almost hear the branches creak and crack as they twist and turn with age. The most beautiful trees you have ever laid your eyes on.
We took it all in. Walking until our feet were raw ... to cobblestone streets lined with majestic homes of brick and stone; architecture that made our hearts race. And to bustling patios filled with handsome boys and plenty of Southern charm. To sailboats by the pier where just a few small steps away sat tombstones that seemed to crumble with the weight of the history and the ghosts that walk amongst them.
With open minds we let the locals show us the nooks and crannies that you only find when you throw your travel guides and maps as far as you can out the tour bus window and then ask the driver to stop so that you can get off and walk...
“What brings you two gals all the way down here anyways? I’ve only met three of you Canadians in my whole life; there was this guy when I was a kid, and, then, well, you two.”
We ate up their words, lived it up, soaked in the culture, and proceeded to defy as many rules at once as humanly possible. Back then these kinds of shenanigans were customary for us. We were relishing in our freedom and reaping the benefits of our youth.
On one of these particularly ‘defiant’ evenings, as we kicked up our heels late into the night, we ended up getting separated. It happened so quickly I didn’t even have a chance to stop and analyze how chancy this parting of ways could have been. Alone in a foreign city, being led from bar to bar by strangers. A moment of fear gripped my heart as I pictured myself as a missing person, and then suddenly, as I caught a glimpse of her face in the crowd, a wonderful moment of relief. My travel companion, my partner in petty crime, my best friend.
I felt grateful that I had taken the leap and decided to go on this adventure with her. Despite a few hiccups in the form of a delayed flight or two, a very delayed bus that was supposed to pick us up from the beach 3 hours before it actually did, and getting lost now and again (sometimes by accident and sometimes on purpose), it brought us closer. I was able to discover and ogle over this new world, while standing beside one of my favourite people in the whole wide world. All the while knowing that we really, truly at that time, had not a care or a worry to flutter our false eyelashes at.
When we sorrowfully decided it was time to head back home, it was harder than ever to reconcile with reality and get back into life as we knew it. Something about this trip had been etched deep into my soul.
I had fallen in love with this place. The smell and the vibe and its people clung to my mind. This beautiful little city by the sea found a spot deep in my memory bank where it, well, chose to stay.
After all, it truly was one of the most visually beautiful places I had ever been, but, also, more importantly, it was the last trip I took alone with a treasured friend before we all started to grow and to change. It will forever remind me of a time where freedom was a luxury and also, just the simple and wonderful thought that back then, my time with my girlfriends was the first thing written in pink and purple ink on every priority list, on every page of my daytimer.
Of course over time, it's only natural that this changes. We pick our paths, find partners, some of us get married and some of us have children. Life becomes full in a whole variety of ways. And now - my time with my girlfriends is still ever so cherished, it just isn't always as easy to come by, I look back at these times of intense and youthful "best friendships" with so much crazy love.
Just recently this particular best friend, my Savannah companion, moved away.
And now that she is gone, even though our lives had become full, and we saw each other less even when we were residing in the same city, I also know that the immense physical distance is also something to contend with. After all, this is not the first close friend of mine to move part way or clear across the country.
So, is it a coincidence that my first born was named after this city that reminds me of my wonderful and wanderlust days gone by? Of course not.
Not only have I loved the sound of the name for as long as I can remember (as well as having lucked out in marrying a terrific man who agreed with my strong opinion of it) but, also I chose it because I hope that as she grows she feels the meaning behind her name and searches for the same kind of adventures, lust for life and remarkable, life-changing friendships that her Mama did.