I was once younger and hopeful, naïve, quick to smile. It takes more effort now — the wonder muscles are achy and stiff after years of heavy lifting. The lactic acid of loss builds up, tender tendons are stretched from division on all fronts, the bruises of rancor and incivility are real. And yet. And yet. There remains, as the late Brian Doyle writes, “the web and weave of the merciful, the endless possible, the incomprehensible inexhaustible inexplicable yes.”
Even here in the Holy City, amidst water rising and luxury apartments inundating and Martha Lou’s closing, the camellias bloom in winter’s pall and awe elbows in.
To wit, these small inexplicable yeses:
The way pelicans on prehistoric wing skim the gray surface of the harbor, then rise, rise and soar away; the way humongous container ships gorged with stuff and more stuff dwarf the tip of Sullivan’s Island as they glide by in capitalism’s nonchalance, inviting the marsh grass to dance and sway in their wake; and how cyclists on the causeway raise a forefinger as I pedal past, and I do the same, a sign language of “howdy,” our digital lexicon; and the way a forced pause means glimpsing a kingfisher swooping along the marsh banks, thanks to the Ben Sawyer’s metal jaw yawning wide, halting the thrum of traffic, making way, making way.
And how at the Park Circle playground, preschoolers with crusty noses never tire of swinging, back and forth, forth and back, pumping their little skinned knees to arc through the slipperiness of time; the way the smell of Publix fried chicken can sabotage dinner plans on the way to the produce aisle; the way the efficient bag boy, obediently face masked, makes shy eye contact, offering to help you to your car.
The way my friend Marlena shows up Sunday after Sunday where the peninsula’s elbow bends and the Cooper and the Ashley flow into one and the Battery is battered by a Biggie-sized flag of bigotry and so she stands there to stare down hate, her jacket puffered in the wind; and the way roses climb the lamp posts around Colonial Lake in a relentless tangle of thorny gorgeousness, and how dogs tolerate leashes, and how a college co-ed in her Lululemon tights and earbuds chats loudly with who-knows-who then breaks into a riotous giggle that’s not annoying the way her chatter was, but infectious.
The way church bells ring hourly, as they have for centuries, the city’s deep resonant pulse, and the way Fast & French is a garlicky heaven on bouillabaisse nights, and the way the Krispy Kreme conveyer belt churns ever onward, anointing mere flour and yeast with sacred glaze — a miracle of trans-fatty transfiguration, thank the good lord.
The way you have to watch your step on bluestone sidewalks because, despite best intentions, entropy has the right of way; and the way oysters at oyster roasts are more steamed than roasted because things are rarely what we say they are, though when they’re plump and salty and slide right out of the damp shell, who really cares?
As long as we call it good and holy and chase it with a slug of Firefly, as long as we bow and grin and wipe the brine off our face, bright and happy in the presence of wonder, the world is our oyster, and yes, yes, it is delicious.
About the writer …
Stephanie Hunt writes features, profiles and misc. musings for numerous national and regional publications, champions local media + radio (hey, Ohm!) and prefers two wheels to four.