An indelible mark, like the embedded watermark on linen stationary, remains within us, is left upon us, by certain places. When I received the email invitation to attend the retirement party of my residency director, Peter Carek, MD, I wondered how returning to Charleston might feel. I decided to be very low key about it. No super planning. I packed at the last minute. My memories naturally made a list of places I should visit but I was determined not to make the trip heavily burdened with the Past. I looked for new places to explore, new shops and restaurants to seek out. I refused to print a Google map. I wanted to know if I could find my way back. When I left I-95 and began the 61 mile drive up Hwy 17 into the provincial heart of the Low Country it felt as if I drove the road merely a week ago and not 13 years ago. I passed Ashepoo and then the peach cider stand, I remembered Tullifinney and the turn off for Beautfort. I decided I wanted to take the back way onto John’s Island. I wanted to know if I could get back to the sweet little shotgun cracker house on Woodland Shores Road. I drive a little car and still felt the live oaks encroached onto the road edges. Mere inches between my front bumper and those trees or the oncoming cars made for a harrowing drive lessened by the new, multi-lane bridge connecting John’s to James Island. The municipal golf course looks well cared for the Riverland Terrace neighborhood is still mixed. Our little cracker house looks well loved too with new porch columns and fresh paint. The Tabernacle of God’s People Church has upgraded from a shanty shack covered with tar paper and roof shingles for siding to a glorified, aluminum shed.

Tonight I had a simple and light dinner at Gaulart & Malichet, better known as Fast and French. Goat cheese on toasted French bread was sublime. I had to have a light dinner because I had a glorious lunch at Husk. I spent the day shopping down King Street after a lingering breakfast of donuts at Glazed with my dear friend, Lori. And like Lori said, 90 minutes of time together every 10 years is not enough except it didn’t feel like that much time had passed. After a sweet potato doughnut and a apple-bacon fritter, I had to walk King Street. I made a detour through Caviar & Bananas, a gourmet market and bought some small gifts for my friends.

Tomorrow I am going to Hyam’s Garden center on James Island and then out to Folly Beach. I love this city even in the sweltering heat and oppressive humidity.

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