Grateful Heart Monday

Welcome to this week’s Grateful Heart Monday, where gratitude remains the sole focus of my writing, which for today is for my recent vacation with my partner Chris to Tybee Island and Savannah, Georgia, two places neither of us had visited before in any of our worldly travels.

I’m always amazed at how different and unique every city, town, and well, just about every square inch of this country and world seem to be whenever I visit a new part of it. So, when my dear friend Michael invited Chris and I to attend his late November wedding in the Savannah vicinity well over a year ago, I was ecstatic because both Chris and I had always wanted to visit that part of the country. Because of it, we planned an entire vacation around it, booking a condo on the oceanfront on Tybee Island, which is the coastal area just outside Savannah.

Our drive was split up into two days getting there, given it’s almost a 14-hour drive. When we first arrived in the area, it was dark, but the one thing I noticed as we drove through the city on our way out to the beach was all the Spanish moss hanging down from the trees. I had always seen pictures of it, but truly it was a site to behold, especially because it lives symbiotically with the trees it’s on, never hurting them. The second thing I noticed were all the gas lamps flickering on all the old buildings we drove by. For a minute, it almost felt like I had stepped back in time to the 19th century and earlier. All of which was a stark contrast to when we finally arrived at our modern condo situated directly on the beach’s edge on Tybee Island where the lull of the ocean surf and the healing energy of the saltwater air seemed to invigorate my soul. After an amazing first meal at the Sundae Café on Tybee Island and a good night’s sleep, our vacation truly began with the wedding itself the next day, which was held at The Ford River & Field Club in Richmond Hill, Georgia.

This wedding by far was the most amazing spectacle I’ve ever been to, not only because of its incredible location right on the Ogeechee River and the history of the place itself, but also because of it feeling like I was constantly on the set of some big Hollywood romantic movie. With foods matching much of the local customs and music doing the same from a well-known group called The Fabulous Equinox Orchestra, which reminded me of either Michael Bublé’s or Harry Connick’s bands, I really felt immersed in a new culture I had never experienced before. Most weddings I always seem to leave as soon as dinner is over, but this one I stayed almost till it ended, which says how amazing it was for me. Over the course of the next five days after the wedding, I had much to be grateful for.

On the first day, it was for a visit from my nephews Noah and Jacob who drove down from Charleston, SC to see me, two people I hadn’t seen since well before COVID even began. Together, we all dined at Paula Dean’s Creekhouse, visited the Wormsloe Park where Forest Gump broke out of his leg’s shackles and ran down the mossy tree-lined street, and had ice cream at the world-famous Leopold’s where we waited well over 30 minutes, but was more than worth it.

On the second day, we visited Tybee Light where I climbed its 178 steps to the top and had the most pristine view of the entire island. I’m so thankful I’m not afraid of heights to enjoy moments like that. After the climb, we took a tour around an old fort nearby, then caught a showing of Ghostbusters: Afterlife at an AMC theater in Savannah where we opted for the “Big D” experience, which felt like I was immersed in the film, and finished the day having a great pepperoni, cheddar, sausage, and green olive pie at Lighthouse Pizza on Tybee Island.

On the third day, we took a trolley tour around Savannah, with an extremely funny and boisterous guide who taught us much about the cities history, some that astounded me, and some that saddened me, mostly due to the roots of slavery and racism that once were readily present in the area. Dinner that night was uniquely different from all the prior meals in that we opted for Indian food at the Himalayan Curry Kitchen. I must say it was some of the best I’ve ever had and some of the spiciest as well!

On the fourth day, I took a 2 mile walk on the beach alone, mostly for meditational purposes. While it challenged my health, it was rewarding because it truly helped to ground me and bring me closer to Source with my feet planted firmly in the sand feeling the cold water lap up under them. Later that day, we explored some of the unique shops on the island, including T.S. Chu’s, a place that has been there for more than 84 years! We dined at Spanky’s after that and drove around many of the local streets once we were done eating, just to see what homes looked like in the area.

Our final day was a Thanksgiving meal at Paula Dean’s Lady and Sons Restaurant, which served us so much food, we had to take our dessert back to the condo. To work some of it off, we walked the streets of Savannah for a good while and ended up in Chippewa Park where Forest Gump sat on the bench waiting for the bus.

Truly, overall, my visit to Tybee Island and Savannah, was beautiful and enriching on many levels. I felt more connected to Chris than I have in years and could actually see us living in that area someday. Sitting on the balcony with him listening to the tranquil ocean sounds on our final night there with the bright moon shining over the water was probably the most peaceful I’ve felt with both him and within myself in a long time. Beyond the culture, the foods, and the fact that the people there were very friendly, something I often feel is lacking in the Midwest and even in the Northeast where I’m from, the trip had much to be grateful for, on many levels, ones I will always remember probably for the rest of my life and ones I dedicate to today’s Grateful Heart Monday.

Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson