My most recent “weekly” post was over a month ago (September 7, 2013).
I’m proud to say that my tongue stitches are out, and I can almost talk again since my last post. Actually, I enjoyed my “time of reflection” in the recovery ward of the, “Shirts are pinned and wrapped in cardboard, paper and plastic to keep their shape,” mental institution. There are some really nice well-intentioned people there. And the staff are nice as well.
Truthfully, my lack of postings since September 7 has something to do with the delicateness of the date of the last post. That date would have been my mom’s 73rd birthday. Why isn’t grief linear? And how does it drive us to create and stop us in our tracks at the same time? Maybe that’s worth exploring in a future post.
Most of the reason I haven’t written is because of the multiple significant changes I’ve experienced in 2013. Since moving down south, I’ve searched unsuccessfully for a new Julinda to present to you. No such luck. Alane still believes that I made up Julinda. “Would I lie, to you and my mappers of edges,” I answered. All I got in reply was a pair of raised eyebrows.
I’ve learned that this area is known for two weird non-Julinda things:
I. The legend of the Lizard Man of Scape Ore Swamp, He has been spotted many times since the 1980s by locals in nearby Bishopville, South Carolina.
II. Here in Camden, the ghost of Agnes of Glasgow is said to still roam the streets and fields of Camden, looking for her lover who was fighting in the Revolutionary War. Agnes died in 1780 and was buried in the dark of night in a graveyard literally down the street from our house. She never found her lover.
The coolest thing I’ve experienced so far is the 17th Annual Downhome Blues Festival in downtown Camden. For three nights, the main and side streets of the town were closed in favor of the sights and sounds of live blues music.
On the final night of the festival, I went to the festival while Alane was out of town. The streets were packed. The bars and restaurants were open and overflowing with customers. At Sam Kendall’s I got a free meal, courtesy of the gentleman sitting next to me at the bar.
I had no reservation, which I learned some folks had made weeks in advance of the festival. While live blues music played from multiple stages and television screens glowed with the bright colors of the South Carolina Gamecocks and Clemson Tigers football, the hostess let me wander aimlessly, looking for any empty seat to claim as my own.
There was one stool open at the bar – literally the only available seat in the place. I leaned close to the elderly gentleman on the next stool, and yelled over the live music playing from the street and from inside the restaurant. “Excuse me, but are you saving this seat for someone?”
The man swung around, grinned and said, “Yes I am. I’m saving it for you!” He patted the stool as if encouraging a puppy to sit. I did. I looked over the menu trying to concentrate from the sensory overload of sight and sound. The man hugged me and said he was glad I had come.
As soon as the man’s meal was placed in front of him, he divided his BBQ ribs, and placed them, along with a samples of his sides and one roll onto his bread plate, and slid the pile of food in front of me. “This is for you,” he said. “I can’t eat all of this. This place makes the best ribs in town. If you didn’t already know that, you will.”
I wondered if this is how it’s done in the South. Are people really this friendly, or did he have ulterior motives? In other words, did he expect payment in some way other than a thank-you? If so, he went away disappointed, because thanks is all he got. I however, was not disappointed. The ribs were awesome.
We talked and ate, laughed and ate, watched football and ate, and listened to blues and ate. When he left, he gave me a hand shake and shoulder pat as if saying goodbye to a good friend. Just like that he was gone and the bar stool next to me was empty.
I was alone for about 3.2 seconds. “Excuse me, but are you saving this seat for someone,” a voice behind me asked. “Yes I am,” I said. “I’m saving it for you. Have a seat!” I patted the warm bar stool. Someone sat down and said that this was his first time here.
“What’s good here,” he asked. “This is the best place for ribs,” I said. “If you didn’t already know that, you will.” I paid my bill, pushed my plate of bones and mostly-eaten roll in front of him, patted him on the back and left. I love the south.
I roamed the streets listening to a mix of local unknowns and accomplished players of the blues. I didn’t find a new Julinda, but I think I witnessed the spirit of Robert Johnson. While, former guitarist for Muddy Waters, wowed the crowd on the main stage in his best three-piece suit and electric guitar, a solo performer by the name of Robert Lighthouse did the same at the opposite end of the street.
Primer and his band played under the lights of the stage high above the busy end of the street. Lighthouse played and sang his heart out alone, playing through a borrowed amp on a dirty sidewalk.
Lighthouse sold his CDs out of his guitar case for $15 each, “or whatever you feel it’s worth,” he said. Someone had paid with a pack of cigarettes. Lighthouse had no change, so I said keep the $20. “You’re awesome,” he said. “No, you are,” I wish I had said.
A strung out hooker followed me around most of the night. She said she would pick up cigarette butts and dispose of them properly for just $25. Is that what they call it down here? I learn something new everyday. I almost wish I smoked just to watch her in action, because this activity was foreign to me.
A business owner met me at the door of her antique shop and asked if the woman was with me. “No… no… and again no,” I told her. With that, she laughed and let me browse her shop. Apparently, she had a no smoking policy in her establishment.
Where are those stories I promised? On the way, my dear Mappers of Edges… On the way… They will be here on MappingTheEdge under a new tab.
Would I lie to you?