Lie-low country.

If you live in the South for any period of time, we say the weather thins your blood to broth.

Summer in the South means nothing dries. Ever. A towel is as good as a Kleenex after a shower. Damp you are, and damp you remain.

But the 100-degree heat and 100% humidity felt like an embrace from a bosomy relative, and I fell with relief into its swampy arms.

Savannah was exactly what I needed. It was an out-of-the-way jaunt as I made my way from Atlanta to Virginia, but I wanted to see my family and the ocean.

There's a terminal velocity when you leave the mountains for the sea: you accelerate on your way down and, upon arrival, die and go to heaven.

I went to the beach twice, and, as I do every time I go to the beach, I think of every other time I've been to the beach: with family, with friends, with the men I've said goodbye to, and, most reliably, with myself.

On the way back to Savannah from Tybee Island (overcast, windy, perfect), I ate at a small cafe where local shrimpers went from trawler to table in their galoshes and ordered fried anything in their wonderful drawls.

In lieu of the briny, viscous water I'd somehow forgotten the low-country coast was known for, I drank a half-sweet/half-unsweet tea with a lemony pang of knowing I wouldn't get it out West.

Noting the clouds, I wished for rain and happily got the summer storms I missed so much: thick rain, cannon rounds of thunder, deep grey clouds.

I was staying in a bonkers Victorian house on Anderson, painted purple-on-purple and full of massive, high-ceilinged rooms that seemed surprised to still be intact. Mine was a tiny attic room deemed the "Writer's Retreat" at the top of the stairs.

On my first night there, a storm thrashed palm branches against the roof and windows and I sat on my twin daybed listening and smiling.


A morning jog in the brimstone of the Savannah summer heat took me through all the streets I've walked along since I was a small child: River, Bay, Bull, Abercorn, through the squares, past the churches, under the canopies of Spanish moss-riddled oaks.

Heat and history gelled the city's inertia into vignettes of my childhood. Frigid air conditioning still gusted out of open doors along River Street. Dolphins still bobbed in the harbor. I still got sidetracked by the pralines at River Street Sweets, and was happy to have left my wallet back in my room.

When I got back to the house red-faced and sweating, a guest looked at me in horror. "I can't believe you're wearing long pants to run in this heat," she said. "It's too damned hot here. We're going back to the mountains."

Good, I thought.

I left for my friends' farm in Cameron, NC, happy to stay in the blazing heat of the south as I pointed my car northbound.

As I neared the North Carolina border, I found something else went unchanged: South of the Border still lured tourists for hundreds of miles along I-95 with their racist caricatures on screaming-neon billboards.

Growing up, my family went to South of the Border a handful of times during our annual road trips from New Jersey to the deep south to visit family and get bad sunburns.

I can't see palmetto trees without feeling sand scratch against my burnt back on rough, rented sheets. Ah, childhood.

As I crossed into North Carolina, "Sunshine Superman" came on the radio. I could have tripped out easy and visited South of the Border for old time's sake, but I've changed my ways.

Besides, I wouldn't put it past them if they still had coin slots on the bathroom stall doors.


© 2018 Rachel Trignano