For several years now, I’ve had Savannah on my list of cities I wanted to visit, hoping to experience what I saw in pictures — the southern charm, beautiful homes, and live oak trees dripping in Spanish moss. This past weekend, I finally got my wish, as a few close girlfriends and I met in Savannah for a long weekend stay.
We arrived in Savannah on Thursday and settled into this beautiful rental house in the historic district, a few blocks from the river. Everyone in our group was excited to explore the city, but we also hoped to do it at a relaxing pace. So having a nice place for down time was really nice. When we were in the house, we spent most of our time curled up on the furniture in this living room… … and drooling over this kitchen.Our days in Savannah focused on two main things: eating really good food and taking in really beautiful sights.
But for anyone who’s lived in or visited Savannah, you likely know that getting a seating at Mrs. Wilkes Dining Room for lunch is the most coveted one in town. We lined up with 150 other people at 10 a.m. in hopes of getting seated when then doors opened at 11:00 a.m. We were all pretty excited when we were seated inside and then immediately awed by the food on the table waiting for us.
Two large plates of fried chicken and then every kind of soul food side you could imagine – yams, greens, mac & cheese, black eyed peas, dirty rice, corn pudding, okra, corn bread, biscuits, and the list. goes. on. and. on. There had to be at least 25 side dishes, and it was the kind of situation where you’d fill your plate and then discover there were a few dishes on the other end of the table that you hadn’t known existed. The tables at Mrs. Wilkes Dining Room are communal, and we had a nice time chatting with the additional three people at our table — a couple from Ohio, married for 52 years (they claimed the secret was having two TVs in the same living room) and a man from New Zealand who was traveling alone, touring through southern cities on holiday. He had so many questions about the soul food — dishes we find so familiar — which was pretty cool.
After leaving stuffed, walking around Savannah was the perfect activity. I could have walked aimlessly down the tree-lined streets for hours, looking up at old brick homes and crossing over cobblestones. I wish I had more photos of the beautiful historic homes, but they’re kind of hidden under the oak trees and hard to capture. So for the most part, it’s just a little peek, here and there. We made our way to the famous Forsyth Park, which again, I don’t want to use the word “beautiful” 84 times in this post, but I don’t know what else to call it. I kept looking up at the trees and thinking, “Wow, this is picturesque. This does not disappoint.” Per usual, the lovely setting was made even better by the great company. There was a good amount of laughter and stories shared over the course of this trip. We also spent some time exploring some of the small shops and cafés around town, my favorite being The Paris Market, which had all kinds of unique housewares, jewelry, stationary, and baked goods. In addition to exploring the historic district, we took a short drive out to Wormsloe Historic Site, which has more picture-ready grounds and the longest live oak drive in the world (you didn’t know that was a thing people keep track of, right?!). I mean, is this real?Savannah was really good to me. The trees calmed me. The beauty inspired me. The food nourished me. The friendly strangers disarmed me. The comfy bed in that rental house rejuvenated me (I couldn’t believe I slept until almost noon one day!). And these amazing friends strengthened me.
There’s so many years of friendship between us, and I’m grateful for how our time together includes conversations that run the gamut — our aspirations, our favorite ice creams, our plans to see the world, our faith, our justice system, our favorite place to buy underwear, our latest reads, our Netflix history, our relationships with spouses, parents, children, and co-workers.
While we’ve known each other for long periods of time, and we share a common thread of friendship, I’m often struck by and then challenged by the way we’re all different.
I headed back to NYC grateful to feel at home with these ladies and to simultaneously be challenged by the friend with amazing self-discipline, and the friend with the ability to listen more than speak, and the friend who asserts herself with grace, and the friend with an eye for great style, and the friend who cherishes family, and the friend with the humble spirit.
And all of them, altogether beautiful.
[Photo of soul food by Mrs. Wilkes Dining Room.]