On Charleston, SC after two strong cocktails and a moonlit stroll:
I think the reason I’ve always felt so viscerally connected to San Francisco is because it reads like a child’s rendering of a city: houses of periwinkle and marigold and sage in curious shapes, trimmed in scrumptious vanilla icing; hills scattered at random according to the young artist’s fancy; a goofy peninsula surrounded by blue water and green mountains and a giant red bridge, unspoilt by grown-up cautionary mechanisms like high railings or “Caution!” signs. A child would want you to be able to stand in the middle of the sky and gaze out, unobstructed and unencumbered.
Tonight’s walk was taken from a different chapter of our young illustrator’s storybook, one shrouded in moonlight and mystery and dangling moss. In this town, underneath their own layers of icing-porches, the homes are noble and grand and rooted perpendicularly in the peaty earth just below sea level, daring Mother Nature to test them. The wrought-iron archways, tangles of metal middle fingers, beckon suggestively while defiantly reminding visitors that the world below the Mason-Dixon line is magnificent in its complexity. The streets are lined with characters of stone, stucco, brick, and marble, stoic but with hearts and hearths of gold; the oaks just outside mingle effortlessly with the palms and make sultry bedroom eyes at the passersby.
The child has composed a story of unity through diversity, a potentially cloying message when read with grown-up glasses on, but you fail to notice because your breath has been stolen. You have been irreversibly seduced by the flicker of street lanterns and dreams of becoming a member of the Charleston Library Society. You can’t wait to clutch your latest hardback find on those cool, pearly steps, cocooned in an evening blanket of gentle humidity and secrets. Marble pairs so perfectly with dusk, you observe, at the same time that you realize that it was you who drew this illustration decades ago — you just forgot until tonight.