Over the past several months, I have been working on a really fun project on social media. I didn't start this project to get more followers. It wasn't started as a way to get people to notice me in any way. I simply started it as a way to fall in love again with this lovely little city. Turns out, it was much bigger than that in the first place.
I live in one of the most popular cities in the world - according to Conde Nast and Travel & Leisure. And it's no surprise. These awards were a long time coming. Beautiful beaches, diverse culture, and world-renowned food make the trifecta of perfection in this lovely little city. People have finally taken note of all the Charleston has to offer.
I love Charleston. I do. But for much of my life, it never really loved me back. I moved here as a young teen during those developmental years when you really start laying a foundation of who you think you are (I am gonna let that sink in for a minute...WHO YOU THINK YOU ARE). Turns out, all I really thought I was in Charleston as a teenager was not enough. (I mean...come on....it was 9th grade. Is anyone enough in 9th grade? If only I knew then...) I always felt like an outsider looking in - peering into the well-lit South of Broad windows on breezy, sultry southern evenings.
I left Charleston promptly after those tumultuous days in prep school. And even though I ran away, there was always something that pulled me back. My aging parents. My sister and her ever-growing family. The spanish moss dripping from live oaks on my long drive home. The marsh. The sunshine. The beach. It tugged at me, begging me to stay, promising me love all those things I never found here as a vulnerable and awkward teenager.
So I came back. I packed my bags and found a comfortable corner of the world. I put down roots and started raising a wonderful little boy of my own. I found old friends and met new ones. I settled into life a little bit - working, carpooling, grocery shopping, and visiting the corners of my long lost past that I once loved. Somehow though, it still wasn't the same. Ghosts of my uncomfortable life lingered around every corner. They waited for me in alleyways and down long stretches of highway. They hid behind wrought-iron fences and imposing church doors. They lurked in graveyards and playgrounds, waiting to catch me off guard...waiting to remind me of who I never really was in the first place.
One hot day in October last year, I got tired. Tired of all the pain and all the memories. I got sick of the new faces in the city telling me how great it was here. I hated wrestling with the heat and the humidity and the long days of air conditioning inside. Simply put - I had grown weary of the fight I had created for myself. My parents were now long gone, as was our once modest home in a remote corner of one of the fanciest resorts in the world. My friends had all moved on. Only the shadows remained of a life that I had once come here for. I was ready to pack my bags and leave this city that tortured me like some dumb boy who was there for nothing but to string me along in a ridiculous game of cat and mouse.
Something stirred inside me that day. I took a drive. I hopped in the car with my camera and set off to find something I loved. The beach? Spanish moss? Cobblestone streets? I had to find something to be positive about. It couldn't all be as bad as the demons in my head were telling me. So, I set out to find something to embrace about where I was - right here and right now.
#postcardsfromcharleston developed because I wanted to like Charleston for what Charleston was - pretty, quaint, serene...and home. But over time, it became so much more than that. It became Love. And Peace. It became a sense of belonging in my otherwise displaced heart. It's became a place for contentment and gratitude and appreciation. And mostly, it is now a place me to find myself again and let go of old notions I once had.
The best part for me is that I have found this space. It was with me all the time. I just had to want to see it and refocus the picture that had become all too blurry to me. And let go...