I arrived in Charleston, SC—or nearby—Monday. On my way back to New Orleans.
Went into the city proper yesterday. I'd been on previous trips but wanted to see how it looked with this shitstorm we're facing.
Pretty place, early-19th-century century houses. Enjoyable to walk, normally. Scene of a monstrous church slaying in 2015. Civil War started in the harbor. I'm sure you know this.
The place was practically deserted. Masks required, but half the few people I saw, wearing none. Zero police presence, either on foot or in auto, to enforce.
The last time I walked here I had a companion, a woman I'd been with for three years. My leaving her ached within me. No place is the same if it can't be shared. She liked Charleston.
She walked with me in my mind. I pointed out things to her. "Remember this house?" Or, "I bought you a hat here. You liked it so much." We went to the harbor, in my mind, watched the birds.
As Dylan says: I threw it all away.
Even without her, it was sad walking the streets. The life is squeezed out of the town. Even towns can lose weight, become thinner, look wan.
I wanted to see one building, though, before I turned around.
The Old Slave Mart. I'd been before, taken a tour, but wanted to see it again.
I stood before it. It's odd, in a way, with a plate glass facade. But the lettering above is not odd. Reading the words "MART" on the building made the hair on the back of my neck stand up. As well it should.
It's impossible to process, the fact of slavery. As soon as I thought of what went on inside that building 165 years ago, my mind collapsed.
I walked away, interior fingers pointing at me.
Hardly any walk is simple, is it?