As it turned out, Monday, July 31 was my last night in Charleston. My daughter, Rachel, had rented a room at a beach hotel. I drove through the Isle of Palms to that Holiday Inn on Ocean Blvd., and I noticed the island has had explosive growth since I had lived there. I literally didn’t recognize it. As I looked at row after row of very expensive houses, I had to ask myself, “Is there really that man people in America with so much money?” Erica Jong points out that most writers can’t make a living without teaching or editing, etc. I guess I must get used to the disparity of my meager living to that of others. It wasn’t that I envied the folks in those fine houses, I’m just truly surprised there are so many of them. Jong says that writers can only be “people who can live in cold-water flats and like it.”
After we found my daughter’s room, I walked the beach with my grandson, Mason Alexander Shelby. I was proud of the fact that my daughter married into a family with blood ties to Robert E. Lee and the Jefferson Davis family both. When he was born, I felt like my daughter had borne a Confederate Messiah. We are the only members of our extended family with curly hair, and we both returned from our walk on the wind-blown beach with wild hair. It was an interesting experience to have the whole family laughing at our looks!
We gathered the crew together and went to Coconut Joes for food and drinks. As we waited on the restaurant’s upper deck, I had a banana daiquiri, then I switched to Coronas. My eyes traced the ocean’s horizon. The ocean has a hypnotic effect upon me. It made me want to drag out my Jimmy Buffet books (yes, he does write) and sing “A Pirate looks at 40.”
There was a musician that night. He sang mostly crowd tunes with a sincere but nondescript voice. After the meal of course was when I received the phone call from my mother saying I needed to get to Oklahoma. With that phone call, my Charleston trip and euphoria effectively ended.