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The More Things Change

If you look at something five ways, how can it seem different on the sixth?


We return to the sea again and again. This, the sixth year of spending a week in Cherry Grove, this the first year of the new normal, the post-pandemic stranglehold more or less released. Things appear different.

First, our vista: our friends’ condo at the beach’s point changed hands, and after five summers we had to search for a new place. Serendipity being the kind saint that she is, I discovered a colleague owned a place just half a mile away. We are here, oceanside.

Things are physically different. The pier on the north end of the beach is missing a ninety-foot portion of its middle. The end of the pier (or most of it) still stands, stranded in the water, planks reaching out shore-side, waving for help. This damage is almost a year old; last August, Hurricane Isaias swept across this sandy string and took the pier’s belly with it. The dunes on that side of the beach have been clawed away by angry seawater. The beach moved.

Holy City


Somewhere in the finite stretches of our lives, we crossed an invisible threshold and passed into the stage in which we travel with one of our pets. I realized this in the parking lot of a McDonald’s in Orangeburg, South Carolina, where I stood with our seven-pound chi-weenie on a leash, watching the drive-thru line snake slowly by,

The occasion: a quickly-planned weekend trip to Charleston, one that happened to coincide with Kel’s birthday, but one that was mostly made possible by the clearance of normal weekend events. Late Thursday evening I decided to cash out a small bevy of credit card points and book a hotel room. I hadn’t been to Charleston in years; it had been even longer for Kel and would be the kids’ first trip.

Rapidly-planned trips require an odd sort of coordination. We weren’t going to be there long–checking in Friday evening, taking advantage of everything we could Saturday and Sunday morning, then planning to get home in time to take care of chores and the other business readying for the week ahead. We ought to only plan to do three or four things, tops. We decided we owed it to the kids to book a hotel with an indoor pool. We planned to visit the USS Yorktown, a WWII-era aircraft carrier permanently parked on display. I figured we would do a very short tour of Charleston’s historic downtown (you know, show the kids a place where George Washington slept). We would, no doubt, end up on the beach for a walk.

The Earring

As told by me on Twitter:


It’s late, but that means it’s good timing for a bedtime story. Six years ago, my wife and I snuck away for a long weekend in Chicago. It was her first time in the Windy City, and we picked a blustery few days to be there. Very cold. We bundled up.

We did a lot of touristy stuff in the Loop, all fun: Art Institute, Sears Tower, shops on Michigan. We stayed at my favorite hotel, the Palmer House.

I thought it would be fun to have a drink before dinner at the bar at the top of the Hancock building, so up we went. The view was fun, the drinks quite nice, the atmosphere all you could ask. I wanted to show Kel the basement bar a few blocks down at the Drake, so off we went.

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