Savannah Calls Her Children Home

 

 

I am not a coastal girl by birth, having come into this world in a small town outside of Memphis and being raised in the southwest corner of Georgia. Despite this, I have always had a deep and abiding love for the water; I was born in November, a Scorpio, if you believe in those things. I'm not sure that I do but for some it explains why I find strength and comfort in bodies of water and why my adopted home between Savannah and Tybee Island feels more real and right than the place I lived for nearly 40 years.

I came to Savannah via the best man in the world (next to my Daddy). He, too, was raised in southwest Georgia but had spent most of his career on the coast. A promotion required him forego the salt air and to return to the red clay of his youth. He once told me that he knew before he left Savannah that he would be back.

I visited Savannah first as a child, a dorky Girl Scout with bad hair and freckles. She seemed so elegant with Spanish moss-draped squares surrounded by old family townhomes. As an adult, business brought me back every year or two and I walked the same squares with an adult's appreciation of the art and architecture that demands to be noticed and photographed. It never occurred to me that I would ever live in Savannah, until a new marriage and a new job.

We'd been living here for about a month or so when I was let in on the secret: Savannah is a siren.

I was in a small shop browsing and chatting with the owner when she told me the story of how she came to live here. It seems that her husband was born at Candler Hospital (downtown next to Forsyth Park) but that his parents had moved the family when he was 6 months old. He grew up outside of Atlanta. Married and raised his children into high school there, too.

Out of the blue, he was offered a promotion within his company but it required relocating to Savannah. His wife and children stayed in Atlanta to finish out the school year, making do with visits every other weekend to look at houses.

One of the weekends his family stayed in Atlanta, he spent some time in a local bookstore (it later occurred to me that he was at E. Shaver, bookseller) where he got into a conversation with the clerk. As southerners are want to do, she asked him where he was from and how he came to be in Savannah. He allowed as how he'd been born but not raised here and that work had brought him back.

Continuing her story, the woman goes on to tell me at that moment, an older woman poked her head out from behind a bookshelf and said, "It doesn't matter how long you've been gone. Savannah always calls her children home and they always come."

And now that we have been here for a couple of years, I've lost track of how many times I've heard similar stories. Children born to her and wrenched away. She demands their return with the sweet siren song that promises, "Home."

Other children, like me, have been adopted and brought into her family. She called to me and I came. She lured me with the love of a wonderful man, the promise of a fulfilling career, and the sustenance of the salt, and the sea, and the sand.

No, I'm not coastal by birth but I am Savannah's daughter, nonetheless.

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