22 (or 5b)

Breakfasting at the very pricey Quality Inn at Georgetown. I’m making sure to get my money’s worth, except I’m not because there is no way I could eat enough of this rubbish they call food to possibly put a dent in the extortionist rates I was charged yesterday evening. The only reason I stayed here to begin with was because it was the only decent lodging in town, and I was too exhausted after putting in the bunch of miles I did, and it was getting on near dark, and I really wanted a shower, and I figured I won’t be in another inn, motel, or hotel for a long time, and so it was justifiable. Unfortunately I expected the rates to be about half what they were.

Getting butter on my copy of Tropic of Cancer. I don’t know why I have it with me; can’t read and eat breakfast anyway, especially if the book won’t lie open. On television a man is proposing to his girlfriend—the first ever deaf person to receive cochlear implants. What a thing to hear so suddenly. How overwhelmed she must have been. Though you could see it coming from a mile away, the way he kept asking if she could hear okay, and if she was listening to him. It was like watching a pitcher coming set before delivering the pitch. My legs are still sore. I want to go back to bed.


Cycling through a neighborhood here I’m struck by the prehistoric beauty of those large trees, live oaks I’ve learned they’re called, or, Quercus virginiana, which line the streets of this town, and are so indicative of The South. How I love them so. Their branches sprawl out wide like a fishing net thrown from the prow of a small boat on a river in a country exotic and far, far away; and that’s a little bit how I feel when I cross that invisible, wavering line that separates The North from The South, even though that line doesn’t really exist and there’s really just a gradual shift which most people are unaware of unless they’re walking or traveling by bicycle, but I draw that line anyhow because even though I know it’s not real I love the drama and the excitement that unfolds because of it. And watching the palm trees blow in the wind when I rode into town. It’s almost like I’m on a vacation… I’ve become nostalgic: about scenes in Florida where I would go on business trips when I used to sell sunglasses at a small shop in Annapolis; about the Dominican Republic whose palm trees were massive—long, tall, solid things so much larger than those seen here; and, about the last time I was in Charleston only nearly three months ago.

Then there are the buildings: an old church in particular, Prince George’s Parish Winyah, erected 1745-50, encircled by its ancient, brick wall, cemetery out back, bell tower with clock and cross standing staunchly over the neighborhood in the bright sun; the antebellum houses, some with their wrap-around porches, other, larger ones with their Romanesque columns, are icons of the south, immortalized in novel and poem alike. When seen together with those gnarled trees in yards and along the streets, their limbs askew and asunder, some with Spanish moss draping from their wild branches, like scarves on a coatrack, so intermingled, so indeterminate in their parts, and the moss, lichens and other vegetation growing up and around and over these structures so that they always appear to be in some state of decay, like at any moment they might collapse into themselves to be reclaimed by the green verdure of the earth, they all appear to be one and the same entity, inseparable, like that colossal network of mycelium in the Pacific Northwest that stretches itself out for over two thousand acres. Altogether, this neighborhood as a whole, so halcyon, so serenely calm looks as though it has been here since the dawn of civilization. It is as old as the Aztecs and the Mayans, no younger than the Egyptians.


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