Monday, December 01, 2014

Losing My Keys

A few weeks ago we met up with our friends Angela and Ashley at Starbucks to catch up.  Angela started telling us a story of the neighborhood where she grew up that had an abandoned building in the woods with a cemetery beside it. She said that back then only half of the building was standing and some of the graves in the cemetery had become so level with the surface of the ground that broken caskets were visible.  Of course I was immediately intrigued and wanted to go check it out.  Angela ran around these woods almost 20 years ago so the chance of anything being there today was slim to none.  The only thing I thought could possibly be visible was the cemetery.  We made plans to check it out that same weekend.

That Saturday we met at Starbucks (of course) and then had lunch at La Hacienda.  Nothing like some good Mexican food before a hike in the woods, right?  After grabbing post-lunch coffee we headed out to Angela's old neighborhood and parked near where she thought the old building used to stand.  She wasn't sure how far into the woods it was because when you are a kid your sense of time and distance are slightly skewed.  We parked my Jeep and started walking up the path and headed into the woods.  Most of the woods were open enough where you could walk with no problem but there were a few times where we had to bushwhack to get through.  We walked and walked and walked and didn't see much of anything.  We checked the map on the phone several times and changed our direction based on what Angela could remember about the location.

After a while we stopped and rested on a fallen tree.  I decided I wanted to check out an area just beyond where we were because I thought I saw a small clearing..  I soon regretting my decision because I met up with some thick sticker bushes which scratched my hands and also snagged my clothing.  Once I got through those I thought I was okay... or so I thought.  I was walking toward a large tree and stepped forward with my left foot.  When my foot landed on the ground it immediately sank into the earth up to my knee.  I dropped so hard and fast that I screamed.  It scared the crap out of me!  Next thing I know I hear Tabitha barreling through the sticker bushes to come to my rescue.  When she reached me she had bloody scratches all over her arms but didn't seem to care.  She just kept saying "are you okay? are you okay?"  By that time I had pulled myself out of the ground, brushed myself off and was fine. When we got back to Angela and Ashley they said "she didn't even hesitate!  When she heard you scream she took off!"  Awww, my hero!  Poor thing was all scratched up from her heroic efforts though.

It was starting to get dark and I think we were all becoming frustrated at not finding the cemetery or old building.  There is a brand new subdivision that has been built over half of the woods and Angela thinks they must have plowed over everything to build it.  How can that happen?  I have searched the internet and there is no mention of any cemetery in that area.  I think I need to contact the town preservation society and ask around to see if it rings a bell to any of the members.  There has to be some information and/or documentation about it somewhere.

After a long walk we finally reached the car and we were all about to collapse.  Tabitha went into her pockets to get the keys but the search for them lasted a little too long and her hand checked one too many pockets for my comfort.  I said "you do have the keys, don't you??" She kept feeling around and then said "No".  I thought she was joking so I asked her again.  She said "No".  I said "swear on my parents graves that you do not have the keys" and she did.  Holy crap.  We covered so much area in the woods I knew that we were never going to find them but we went back to look anyway.  Angela said she thought Tabitha dropped them when she ran off to rescue me.  I was pretty surprised at how much I didn't care that she lost them.  She thought I was pissed at her but I thought it was kind of funny. 

 So... we retraced our steps to no avail.  The keys were lost forever to the woods of the missing cemetery.

While walking back to the Jeep we heard a low, deep male voice say something.  We stopped in our tracks and just looked at each other.  One of us said "What?" and we heard the voice again... "You are walking in front of my deer stand."  Again, we looked at each other and one of us said "Okay, sorry!  please don't shoot us - we are leaving!"  We started walking and next thing we know there is this guy walking up to us with a shotgun over his shoulder.  All I could think of was to thank the universe that he didn't think we were some plump, tasty deer!!  The next thought that crossed my mind was the fact that we were in the woods with this stranger who has a shotgun.  I couldn't wait to get back to my car!  This guy starts telling us about his kills and pulled out his phone to show us some dead deer and hog photos.  I just said "I really don't want to see them!"  Gross.
After getting back to the somewhat safety of my Jeep I sent Robyn a text and told her what happened hoping she could run to the house and retrieve my spare key.  She was on her way to her second job and said to give her a few minutes.  She texted me back and said she got the okay from her boss to be late so I sent her the map with the coordinates from my phone since we were in the woods and probably difficult to find.  About 45 minutes later she arrived with the spare key.  Hallelujah! 

When we were heading to go search for the missing keys Angela and I were lagging behind and she whispered to me that I just won the Golden Ticket and now when I'm in the doghouse or want something I can always say "Remember that time you lost my keys in the woods?"  Excellent point!!  That Michael Kors Kempton tote WILL be mine!!

Saturday, November 29, 2014

John's Island Pig Roast

Today Tabitha and I drove out to John's Island to attend a pig roast hosted by author Josephine Humphrey's and her husband Tom.  During the drive along scenic River Road, which is canopied by rows of oaks draped with Spanish moss, we discussed how much we love the Charleston area.  I said that although I am not from the area originally I feel that Charleston is in my blood.  It's probably in my blood more than a lot of people who have families seven or eight generations deep in South Carolina.  So many people take their place of origin for granted and never get to know anything about it.  How can you not love and want to know everything about Charleston?  It's such a beautiful place.

I was looking forward to this BBQ because I knew a lot of the people there have roots so deep in the area and most of them share the same love I have for the Lowcountry.   It's always nice to be around people who understand that we live in a historic, magical place and are so willing to share and talk about what they know about the area and remember from their childhood.  I can't get enough of their stories about their families and growing up in this incredible city.

My friend Brandon arrived at the property on the river before we did and sent me a text saying "it's deep up in here".  I soon knew exactly what he meant.  The land is off the beaten path, down a dirt road, through some fields and around several turns.  When the directions say "follow road to end of pavement and proceed through brick pillars onto the dirt road ignoring the private property signs and go straight toward the dock" - you know you are going somewhere special.


When we arrived we parked under several massive, old and majestic oaks and could hear live music and people chatting.  We stopped at the food tables, which were filled with amazing dishes, to drop off what we brought.  Josephine said about 150 people RSVP'd and I didn't see anyone I knew right off so I sent Brandon a text to see where he was hanging out.  While I waited for him to respond we found our way to the beverages which were on the back porch of the small cottage by the river.  Tabitha grabbed a beer and I had a water.  A few minutes later I found Brandon and his mom sitting inside the screened-in porch of the cottage which was overlooking the marsh of the river.   They couldn't have picked a better spot to sit because of the amazing view.  We were later told that this cottage was the same one used in the movie based on Josephine's book "Rich in Love".  They had it dismantled and rebuilt on their property when filming was completed.  I need to watch the movie again - it's been years!

We sat on the porch for a few hours while people meandered in and out, most stopping to chat.  I saw quite a few people from the Daufuskie Island trip and made a mental note to find them on Facebook later.  I saw some old friends and met quite a few new, very interesting people as well.  It was nice to be able to introduce Tabitha as my wife to everyone, also.  That was an unexpected, really great feeling actually!  Some of the ladies from the Daufuskie trip stayed a bit for a chat and one of them had me laughing hard.  She was talking about being young and running around with her friends and going from plantation to plantation along the coast during the 1950's.  She said sometimes they were free to explore and sometimes they were welcomed by a caretaker with a shotgun.  I told her how amazing it must have been to be able to see all of those places that are no longer standing.  I can't even imagine..  Her stories were so interesting and at times quite hysterical.  I could have listened to her all day but sadly, the sun was starting to set and I noticed that the golden hour was upon us so we left the cottage to stroll the property and take some photos.  Unfortunately, all I had was my iPhone and not my Nikon!


After a short walk under the beautiful oaks we headed back to the party and a lot of the crowd had cleared out.  Brandon mentioned that he saw Nathalie Dupree earlier and I said that I wanted to meet her for the longest time.  She's a Lowcountry culinary legend!  I told Tabitha that I knew she and Josephine were friends and there was a possibility that she may be there.  Tabitha said that Nathalie spoke at her Johnson and Wales graduation.  I thought it was funny that one of the things she remembered from what Nathalie said was to never triple a recipe.  We looked over by the cottage and saw her standing among a few people.  We walked over in the general direction and thankfully Brandon's mom stopped her and broke the ice.  She was such a pleasant, charming lady!  She chatted with us for a bit and told us a few stories about the commencement speech she gave at Tabitha's graduation.  I introduced myself and said that I was so happy to meet her because she's the "Biscuit Queen"!  She is... honestly!!

It was about time to head home so we said our thank you's and goodbye's and headed out.  I was so thankful for Josephine's invitation to this annual event when I received it.  I have been struggling the past week or so with some crazy sinus infection or cold and was hoping I wouldn't have to cancel our plans to attend.  I can honestly say that I have never met a group of people that are so friendly and interesting!  This was such a nice ending to the first Thanksgiving Tabitha and I ever spent together!

My love!
 (photo courtesy of Joan Perry)

Me, Tabitha, Bitsy, Brandon, Sandra and Polly.
(photo courtesy of Brandon Coffey)

Friday, October 24, 2014

Get the Poison Out

The last couple of days I have been thinking hard about people whom I consider to be close friends and the apparent misconceptions I have regarding my role in their life. 

Tabitha and I got married last Friday in Charlotte, which I do intend to write about but I need to get this off my chest because it feels like emotional poison.

I have known most of these friends for years and would do anything for them.  I have attended their weddings, birthdays, baby showers, children’s birthdays and other significant celebrations in their life.  There have been cards and gifts and phone calls and it’s absolutely baffling that I haven’t received the same in return.  I never expected gifts but not even a card was sent.  Really? 

There are people I know at work who knew that we were going and nothing was said to me on Monday when I returned until I was in their department.  No emails, no instant messages, no inter-office phone calls, nothing.  I have been trying to not think about it but it is very bothersome.  Am I not important enough for these “close” friends to get a 99¢ greeting card to say congratulations?  Am I being overly sensitive?

Last night during our walk downtown I was talking to Tabitha about my feelings and disappointment.  Tabitha suggested it could possibly be the gay marriage thing (which I do know most of my friends support) and people might believe that it’s a novelty.  I totally get that.  I do believe that a lot of people subconsciously think that marriage between a man and a woman is more sacred.  Maybe they aren’t used to the fact that same-sex marriage is an actual REAL thing.  Maybe it’s because not every state (including ours) recognizes it therefore it’s not a reality in their world.

Another possible reason I have come up with for the lack of gestures is that we didn’t have a “real” wedding.  We got married in a courthouse.  There were no vows to witness and we didn’t have a big party or an open bar.  Out of sight, out of mind, right?  Maybe I’m too old.  Is there a getting married deadline that I’m not aware of?  Once you hit 30 people don’t acknowledge your nuptials? 

Thank the universe for Facebook.  I think that has become the social norm for offering happy birthday’s, congrats on weddings or babies among other well wishes.  I find it amazing that I received a ton of Christmas cards but not one card offering congrats on the wedding.  

I have a friend that I have known for almost 30 years.  I sent her a text telling her in case she didn't see it on Facebook and this is what I got back:

Seriously.  That's all they said. It’s a wedding.  That’s a MAJOR life event.  I just don’t get it.

I keep telling myself to just get over it and take it for what it’s worth, learn from it and move on.

Definitely easier said than done.  I'm so thankful to have Tabitha by my side to make me smile and and see the positive in all when I'm down.  I believe that her smile, her laugh and sweet nature can ease the hurt and pain from anything the world throws my way.

Monday, September 01, 2014

Hilton Head Day Trip

I’m a history nerd.  I always have been and always will be.  

Tabitha was telling me a story about her ancestors who were living in the Hilton Head/Beaufort area in the 1700’s.  I find it fascinating when I know someone with ancestral roots in the area because I have none which is odd since I’m so fascinated by the history here.  A couple days after telling me this story I did a Google search on her last name in the area and discovered some really interesting stuff.  I found a photo of a massive oak tree in Hilton Head called the “Talbird Oak” which was located on what is now Hilton Head Plantation which is a private, gated community.  I asked Tabitha if she knew about it and she said no.  At that point I was determined to go see it because of my love of history and also the fact that I absolutely love the massive, majestic oaks that are found in South Carolina.  

This past Wednesday Tabitha had the day off and I decided to work half a day so we could spend some time together.  Neither of us had any solid idea of what we were going to do.  That morning I thought about the tree and wondered how we could access the grounds of the private community.  I did another Google search and found the website for the plantation and decided to email the general manager, Mr. Peter Kristian.  I told him of my love for history and that Tabitha had been researching her ancestors and we found the connection to Hilton Head Plantation and that we’d love to see the oak tree named after her family.  He replied soon after and stated that they normally do not let people on the property but since she is a Talbird descendent they would make an exception.  Yay!

When Tabitha arrived at my house I told her that we were going on an adventure.  She asked where we were going and I told her that it was a surprise but I would tell her when we were well out of town in case she didn’t want to go - that way it would be too far to turn back!  Well, we didn’t even make it out of Charleston and I told her that we were heading to Hilton Head for the day.  I told her about getting permission to go to the plantation and that we were going to see the tree and also Talbird Cemetery, which is on the grounds as well.  She didn’t really say anything and I was a little worried.   I asked her what was wrong and she said that no one has ever done anything like that for her before.  That made me sad since she’s such an amazing person but I guess I was happy at the same time because I got to be the one that could make her feel special. 

The drive took about two hours and we arrived at 2:30pm.  I drove up to the gate and told the guard my name and she handed us a pass.  We headed to the property office and were brought into a conference room.  A couple of minutes later Mr. Kristian came in and after introductions he spread out a massive map and started pointing out the highlights of the plantation that were Talbird related.  We chatted for a while about Tabitha’s ancestors and some of the stories about the plantation and the family in general.  He said that Tabitha was the first Talbird that has ever visited to his knowledge which I thought was pretty cool.

After our crash course of directions we headed out to find the tree which we apparently drove right past on the way in.  When we finally saw it I was surprised we missed it.  Of course I was driving so I’ll blame that one on Tabitha!  This tree was massive.  It reminded me of a mushroom with a very large swooping dome.  When you walk under the oak you are swallowed by the canopy and are in this incredible shaded area.  It was beautiful.  We spent some time walking around the tree and read the historical marker that was there.

The Talbird Oak
The Revolutionary War continued for weeks
on Hilton Head and Daufuskie Islands after
Conwallis’ surrender at Yorktown on
October 19, 1781.  On the day of the surrender,
Mary Ann Talbird looked out toward Skull Creek
to see a landing party of British soldiers led
by Isaac Martinangele of Daufuskie.  Isaac’s wife
was Mary Ann Talbird’s sister and for this
reason Martinagele ordered the soldiers to
remove all of the house furnishings and hide them
beneath the overhanging canopy of this tree
before burning the Talbird residence to the
ground and departing for more undefended
sites.  More than a century later, in 1888,
Henry Talbird wrote “This tree used to be my
playground in my boyhood”.

We were sitting on the bench under the tree and even though traffic was steady on the main road I found it to be so incredibly serene there.  After a while I got up and sat on Tabitha’s lap, put my arms around her neck and laid my head on her shoulder.  We sat there holding each other and all I could think is that I didn’t want that moment to end.  I have not felt that much happiness and peace in such a long time.  I have no words to describe it because it’s such a foreign feeling to me.  I never want to forget that moment.

After spending some time at the tree we ventured off to find the cemetery.  It’s an African American cemetery, which we knew, but I was still surprised that there were no Talbird’s there – that we saw, anyway.  There was several hand carved stones which are my favorite to find in cemeteries.  My friend Brandon told me recently that he likes them because the carvings make it so personal.  He’s absolutely right.   I think about that every time I see a hand carved stone now.

 I took some pictures and we decided to head out to explore the rest of the plantation.  After making several 3-point turns I learned today to never let Tabitha navigate!  Ha!  I’m like “give me the map!”  We found a Civil War fort called Fort Mitchel and also a beautiful spot called Dolphin Head Recreation Area which sits on a bluff above Port Royal Sound.  I really wish we had more time to spend there exploring but I had to work in the morning and it was a two-hour drive home.

 Before heading back home I remembered a place that I have wanted to visit for a long time – The Stoney-Baynard Ruins on Hilton Head.  I’ve seen many photos of it but never had the chance to check it out.  It was starting to get dark so we rushed over to Sea Pines Plantation and paid the $6 admission fee and started searching for the ruins.  When we finally found them it was just before the sun went down so there was just enough light to take some decent photos.  I love places like this and was really happy that I could see it with Tabitha.  I live for seeing places of historical significance so I hope that she doesn’t get too bored with my strange road trip destinations.  That’s pretty much all we had time for at Sea Pines but I definitely want to go back to see what else the plantation has to offer.


 I think I was starving poor Tabitha since I never really get hungry anymore.  I keep a protein bar in my purse for emergencies but have never had to use it.  We hadn’t eaten all day and even I was needing a bite to eat.  We searched on Urbanspoon for a local restaurant and settled on one called A Lowcountry Backyard Restaurant.  Um, hello?  It was amazing!!  It’s so hard to find things that I can eat on any menu so I just go with what I want and try to eat a small amount of it and then save it for leftovers.  I always seem to take one too many bites and then get really sick and have to walk around for a minute to help the food settle in my stomach.  I wonder if I will ever get used to eating this way?  I ended up having the Potato Chip Meatloaf with collards and macaroni and cheese.  I would have taken a photo of it but it was way too dark where we were sitting which was a courtyard at the bar.  The courtyard was small with some tables and chairs and a stage for live music where some guy was playing guitar.  I do remember that he played a slower version of the Scooby Do theme that was interesting.  Tabitha had the Bischick which is a breaded chicken breast on top of a homemade biscuit topped with lowcountry gravY.  OMG.  I had a bite and it was delicious.  I’m so glad we stopped there instead of some chain restaurant!  I highly recommend this place to anyone in the area!!

We made one last stop on before heading home and that was Starbucks.  We pulled up and saw a guy outside who was on his laptop.  Tabitha said “I know him” and started laughing.  I didn’t believe her until she got out of the car and started chatting with him.  I mean, you are two hours from home.  What are the chances of seeing someone you know?  Well, turns out that she worked with him and he transferred to the Hilton Head store where she worked briefly when the store opened.  We hung out for a bit talking and then got our drinks and hit the road.  It was late and I was dreading having to wake up in the morning.

It was nice to be able to spend the day with her since we normally work opposite schedules.  Having two hours each way in the car to talk to one another with no distractions was really nice.  It was a perfect day where we just spent quality, happy time with each other.  I can’t wait to see what the future holds for us.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014


Saying that everything happens for a reason sounds so cliché but I’m beginning to think there is some truth to that statement.

I’ve been through hell and back.  I’ve loved, I’ve lost, I’ve laughed and I’ve cried on this incredible journey to get to where I am now.  Through the chaos there have been many times where I’ve doubted my self-worth and thought that I just don’t deserve to be happy.  I just existed and for some reason I accepted that.

So much has happened in the last few years.  I went through this horrible break up with Robin in 2012.  She apparently thought she was better off with her ex-girlfriend – I hope she has found her happiness although I find it shameful that she didn’t have the balls to handle it in a more mature manner.  Soon after ending that relationship I met Robyn and we went through this incredible whirlwind relationship.  Robyn and I started off with amazing chemistry but we never managed to get on the same page..  We wanted different things.  We had drastically different life experiences that made us the people we are today and that can be detrimental when you are trying to build a foundation for spending the rest of your life together.  I’ve lived 100 lives compared to her one.  She needs to experience the world, grow, learn, break hearts, love and live.  After 2 years we finally decided that it wasn’t going to work so we amicably ended us.  It wasn’t easy but it was most definitely necessary if either of us was to ever experience joy and happiness again.

Robyn and I were friendly with this couple and went to their house a few times for dinner.  I met Amy in 2009 when I was on an online dating site.  She sent me a message saying she was looking for friends since she was new to the area.  We became Facebook friends and would see each other out occasionally.  Amy later met Tabitha who Robyn and I really liked.  Amy is kind of high maintenance and obnoxiously boisterous at times and Robyn and would joke that we only went over to their house because Tabitha was cool.  I was intrigued by Tabitha.  During dinner conversations it seemed that she and I had so much in common.  Amy joked that Tabitha and I should have been a couple.  We all laughed it off but it really wasn’t far from the truth.  We respected our partners even though we both felt that weird energy and connection between us way back when. 

Without going into detail (since it’s their story to tell) Amy and Tabitha broke up.  I asked Tabitha to go out on occasion but she would turn me down or bail at the last minute.  For the past 6 months Robyn and I have been on the outs and we finally ended our relationship knowing that it just wasn’t in the stars for us.  I might sound blasé about it but the breakup was pretty brutal but we somehow (thankfully) ended up as friends when all was said and done.

I’m not sure who texted who first but Tabitha and I were chatting and I told her that Robyn and I broke up.  From what I remember she asked me a couple of times if we had really broken up, which I found to be funny.  I knew at that time something might happen between us because like I said, there was always that unspoken connection… that one time she turned to me at the dinner table and looked me in the eye.  I felt that look down to my toes and then did my best to pretend it never happened.

On August 10th we decided to meet at DIG for a drink.  I was weirdly nervous when I arrived.  I soon found out that any notion that there was a previous connection between us was absolutely confirmed the minute I sat down at the bar.  We spent time catching up and talking about how crazy relationships are.  We never had the opportunity to spend time alone before this and it was a relief to be able to finally do that.  The way she looked at me was intense.  At times I just held her gaze, both in silence.  Toward the end of the night she asked if she could kiss me.  I had thought about this moment, our first kiss, a billion times and I almost said no.  I didn’t want it to be at a bar in a restaurant.  I didn’t want it to be awkward but there it was presenting itself so I went for it.  It was awkward but nice.  A bit later she walked me out to my Jeep and we stood and talked some more.  I don’t think either of us wanted the night to end.  We kissed again and during that kiss is when I knew I was in trouble.  It was on and there was no turning back.

Not that I wanted to.