Oh, Charleston. May it please the court...
While we didn't come away sporting hardware, we did come away with a sense that each performance had been not merely satisfactory, but notably above expectations. And the numbers bore it out. It's always good to come away from an undertaking exhausted, ache drained down and pooling in the legs, knowing you've given it everything.
But the city was more than the competition. It was gingerly shucking steamed oysters in suits on the aft deck of an aircraft carrier moored in the harbor (the origin of Doolittle's Raid) as lightning flashed over Fort Sumter. It was talking Hemingway and Philip Roth with Willis, gazing lazily into the park across the cobblestoned expanse of Chalmers Street. It was ambling along the South Battery mansions, gulls floating in over the cannons, yellow "Don't Tread on Me" flags and blue palmetto flags waving here and there. It was an architectural treasure trove of side-porch entries, earthquake bolts, and crenellated stucco. It was the top-hatted Caribbean doorman who gave a random shoutout to Ricky Weeks and proceeded to give a monologue that concluded with delight at the crying of Coach K. It was the almost mystical old Unitarian Churchyard festooned with Spanish moss. It was hip College of Charleston kids longboarding down King Street, old Gullah ladies weaving sweetgrass baskets on the steps. It was heading to the airport at 4 am in heavy rain, the whole taxi singing Cheap Trick along with a hefty driver who made it clear she was proud to have been "born and reared" in Chucktown.
It was the fringed mule carriage plodding past the coffeeshop window where the girl sat entranced with her sailor on leave.