The south is like a diamond. Even the most beautiful and precious gems usually have a dark and heartbreaking crack.
Por ejemplo, on our recent vacation we had dinner at The Olde Pink House in Savannah, Georgia.
So pretty, right? I was already feeling kind of swoony from walking through all the beautiful squares filled with giant Oak trees and seeing horses in the street. I’m very old-fashioned. Right up until I’m burping and swearing in public.
The hostess lead us up this stairwell, which at the time was lined with employees:
It was a little unnerving because the staff was being suspiciously welcoming, and we had just come from a cemetery. It was unclear if we were being taken to trial for a crime we hadn’t committed, or we were being properly received. Turns out it was the latter.
We entered the dining room that looks like this:
I openly gasped.
It immediately became my FAVORITE restaurant. EVER.
There are about 37 other rooms that are smaller variations of that one, filled with fireplaces, oil paintings and visions of grandeur. It’s sort of like being on the Titanic but without all the pesky drowning. I was a little bummed I didn’t know more about MY NEW HOME (in my mind) before we arrived because I totally would have worn my favorite hoop skirt and had my hair done.
Of course the food was I-can’t-even-talk-about-it-without-tearing-up-a-little amazing.
And the service was perfect. Thank you, Brian. It’s okay that you’re from New Jersey.
Nine courses later we got some dark history. Specifically, James Habersham received the land for The Olde Pink House from the King of England as a reward for being a giant doosh (something about slavery I prefer not to remember). He shared the property with his sons, one of whom was James Habersham, Jr. who got greedy and turned on the King by becoming a Federalist, which broke his father’s Loyalist heart. The King put a price on junior’s head, as kings will do when you piss them off, and then traitor-boy left to fight in the war while his wife oversaw the construction of their home. When he returned, his wife had decided she liked the mason better.
Welcome to Colonies™, the game.
The cemetery I mentioned earlier is the Bonaventure Cemetery. We went there because Pulitzer Prize winner Conrad Aiken is buried there, AND it’s a gorgeous place to sit with dead people, like you do on vacation.
I used to hate Spanish moss because of that night I broke my toe on a drug run when I was nine but now I find it very pretty. Enchanting even. Particularly, when it’s over the bench that is Mr. Aiken’s tombstone.
Very thoughtful of him to give you a place to sit and honor his request to have a drink with him and his parents. They’re buried next to him.
Please note the death dates.
More dark history. No they did not die together holding in hands in a romantic train accident. His father murdered his mother in their home and then committed suicide when Conrad was 11.
Oh the gothic south. Sure, an emotionally scarred orphan. Let’s all drink to that.
Occasionally you do come across a diamond in the rough that really IS perfect, even though it may not look perfect.
It’s called Tybee Island.
This was our vacation headquarters, aka the safe and happy place we went back to so I could privately weep about all the loss and betrayal we found in Savannah.
The thing that makes Tybee so fabulous is that at first glance you might think these people aren’t very bright because they post signs like this:
Disseminate information like this:
Drink and drive on purpose:
And have life-size Jenga game for a grocery store.
BUT, it turns out they are very smart and crafty people who are just dumbing it down for the tourists so they can have the place all to themselves. In January it’s a quiet locals-only paradise that looks like this:
But we would not be thwarted. We were vacationing alone this time and were determined to see more of the island. Note: the last time we were here (July) we had two children with us and we left the house exactly two times in seven days. Once to go to the beach, which at that time was overrun with screamy kids and exhausted parents dragging wagons of buckets and broken dreams behind them, and once to eat dinner at a place I can’t remember because that’s what kids do to your brain.
We were rewarded for our tenacity when we were exchanging “are your affairs in order?” glances at each other in the Jenga-IGA. The other brave shopper cheerfully suggested we go to the Social Club.
We went. Y’all? That place will is one of the coolest places in the history of ever. Like a beach house and Paris got together and made a baby.
Dinner was fabulous and we were enjoying hanging out with no responsibility for a minute when one of the owners, Sarah, came over and introduced herself. Here we are two hours later:
We went back the following night because that queso is no joke, and we met Sarah’s husband and co-conspirator, Kurtis:
And Mayor Matt (he’s not really the mayor, mostly):
Super cool beach kids laying low right?
After four days of leaving their restaurant only to sleep and be devastated by Savannah, Sarah and Kurtis invited us over to their exquisitely renovated house, which they did themselves, to meet some of their friends. Not only are these two running a restaurant and bar, Sarah is a hot-shit interior designer, and Kurtis and his brother are Columbia Records stars (when Kurtis isn’t busy creating giant oil paintings, building furniture and being a culinary wizard). Their buddy Jason produces many of the music festivals you see in Savannah, Scott is a fancy photographer, and Barry was Paula Dean’s agent right up until she started behaving like a complete jackass last summer.
Naturally I saw fit to demonstrate how I awesome I am through the medium of dance:
That is not really me. But I did pick up the new nickname Flashdance Rabbit.
Cue the exit music. Not only are the locals of Tybee super talented, they’re genuinely awesome humans you will look forward to seeing again.
And that, is a rare and perfect gem.
We are vacation champions.
Notes from me to you:
a) I am not a journalist – everything I said about the dead people in this post is hearsay. I was on vacation and couldn’t be bothered to fact-check.
b) This post is not sponsored by anyone except my own glorious self. If you go to any of the places I mentioned and announce that I sent you, they will politely charge you full price and you will have a fantastic time.
c) Party with that. It’s Tuesday – hell yeah.