Saturday, August 12, 2006

Looking 4 Literature On Vacation

On a recent impromptu holiday, I wondered how I could turn this quickie, two-day vacation to Savannah, Georgia into something literary; you know, for the blog. I mostly wanted to take photographs of cemeteries, majestic colonial mansions and moss-covered trees, but surely there was something that I could relate to literature and writing during my stay, save for the renovated riverfront, its cobblestones, and the city market on the banks of the river where at one time, more than just vegetables were sold.

I’ve seen quaint little bed and breakfasts on travel shows and have always imagined that it would be a dreamlike experience. I chose Savannah’s Bed and Breakfast Inn, a colonial townhouse, which is located at the northern edge of the historic downtown district. It is surrounded by the otherworldly landscape that only a swamp could produce. A few blocks in every direction reveal yet another neighborhood square: Lafayette, Chatham, Monterrey, Pulaski, Oglethorpe, and so on. There was no elevator, so we climbed a narrow, wooden staircase to our third floor room. Walls lined with Victorian portraiture and clipper ships felt authentic, and me and my beloved tried to guess what they would be worth on the Antique Road Show. Our four-poster bed needed a ladder, and we were high enough from the street that we heard relatively little noise.

Staying in a bed and breakfast is an intimate and unruffled encounter. It feels like you’re staying with relatives minus, well, relatives. Breakfast is served in a dinning room that feels like your grandmother’s dinning room, and there was a veranda with a sleepy, tiger-striped cat, whose name I neglected to inquire about. There is a pleasant absence of the concrete, geometric uniformity of a hotel chain. No unruly children wandering, unattended through the corridors. Oh, and in case you forgot you were in Georgia, everyday at four p.m., glasses of iced, sweet tea was served with lemon poppy seed pound cake, or zucchini bread, or sugar cookies.

There is a saying, or a bible verse, or maybe my Aunt Fannie said it once. It is something like, ‘that which you seek is causing you to seek’. Well, being the only tenants with dreadlocks, I decided to break the awkward, racial ice and ask where our other guests were from. There were two, stylish gentlemen from France, although they didn’t say what part. A couple who had been there a week and were about to leave were from Italy. There was an older couple, from Buford, Georgia, who didn’t engage us until after we’d run into them twice at African-American historical tours. And, then a young, Australian lady, who was traveling alone, came to the table. She was an English teacher of high school students in London. Her worn copy of Teaching Stone to Talk by Annie Dillard was a give away. We briefly discussed our English studies lineage, talked about what we were reading, and exchanged book lists. I gave her The Known World, Bellocq’s Ophelia, The Farming of Bones, and The Bondwoman’s Narrative. She gave me The Woman Warrior by Maxine Hong Kinston, a poet named Ruby Ginibi, My Place by Sally Morgan, and the plays of Thomson Highway. In a place I chose randomly I met a fellow traveler who shared a love of reading and discussing literature. Well, now I felt like I belonged. Later, we toured the Ralph Mark Gilbert Civil Rights Museum. Gilbert served as pastor of the historic First African Baptist Church of Savannah, reorganized the Savannah Branch of the NAACP in 1942, and served as its president for eight years. He was a nationally known orator and playwright, producing passion plays throughout the country.

Having had my literary itch scratched, we retired to another vacation favorite: the beach.

Labels: , ,


At 3:25 PM , Blogger BLUE said...

"English studies lineage" ... what a beautiful way - a smart way - to look at the personal journey into text. you got right profound wit' that one. light!


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home