I've been here in Bluffton, SC for two weeks now and I've had some pretty lovely adventures. My friends K and C were in Savannah the first week of my visit and, with them, I explored some of Savannah (my very favorite place) and spent a day lounging on the beach at Tybee Island.
During this second week, I've spent some more quality time on the beach, took a solo trip to Savannah where I discovered Back in the Day Bakery's banana pudding (Wow!), and my niece, R, and I went to Charleston for a day of shopping, lunching, and aquarium gazing.
The highlight of all of these explorations, though, was getting to see Flannery O'Connor's childhood home in Savannah. I've tried several times over the last few years to get inside, but found it closed every time. Finally, last Tuesday, I got lucky and took the tour! It was so worth it and the guide told some delightful stories about young Mary Flannery: she refused to attend the children's mass at the nearby Cathedral of St. John the Baptist because she thought of herself as an adult. She called her parents by their first names and, when hosting friends for "literature parties" (they read aloud from Mary Flannery-approved books to one another), she would put pillows into the claw foot bathtub because it was much cooler in there during the summer. I have dreams of quitting my job and moving down here to permanently volunteer all my time to giving tours of that house. I would do it in a heartbeat!
During the tour, our guide mentioned that the grounds at O'Connor's home in Milledgeville, GA, Andalusia, was also a very worthwhile visit for true fans. I was inspired. So, this morning, I got up early and set out on the three hour drive from here in Bluffton to Milledgeville, GA to see Andalusia.
If you've never been, it's a really interesting property because it sits right along a very busy road. However, once you're at the end of the long drive leading up to the homestead, it feels like a world away. So much of what's there is suggestive of some of O'Connor's most famous stories: a barn with a hayloft, a steep, narrow staircase, thick and quiet woods. I couldn't help but imagine all of the ways that space had inspired her. It was a long day of driving but I am so, so glad I went. Just being there was inspiring and I felt like I could run right home and write a story! Ha!