I must admit, when an old friend asked me to be in his wedding in Savannah, GA I was not excited to make the 4600 or so mile flight(s). I live on Maui, he said without gloating. Frankly, if I hadn’t been asked to be a groomsman I probably wouldn’t have attended. NOT because I don’t like my friend. On the contrary, he is a very good friend, one of the best (friends and people.)
You know what I mean though right? Those weird wedding invitations when you’re just like, ‘huh?’ ‘They invited me to their wedding?’ Not the case here, but after roughly $3000 all-in (including AirBnB, food, clothes, and drinks…oh so many drinks) for a total of 36 hours actually at the destination and a traveling time of over 36 hours (including trips to and from the airport, layovers, and connections) I probably should have thought twice about it. However, in my opinion when you are honored with the request of being a part of one of the most special days in a person’s life, you go. I’ve been a groomsman three times and a best man once and every time I’ve had to travel across North America and in this case half of the Pacific as well. Without sounding too pretentious, you man or woman-up when you get the call to don ridiculous matching attire to line dance, make small talk with friends’ random relatives you’ll never see again, and drink far more than you’re used to in a given day.
As an Upstate New Yorker who has been on his fair share of trips to spring destinations I have only ever passed through Georgia and knew nothing about Savannah. Admittedly, I know little about the state and lump it in with a whole group of southern states. As someone with little experience in the southern states (I lived in Florida for two years but any southerner and Floridian will tell you Florida is in a weird league of its own) I personally had a hard time seeing differences.
This can be said about many different places in the United States depending on where you call home. In the most parts of the country New York is lumped in with other northeastern states and of course the majority of the country only ever thinks of Manhattan or the Statue of Liberty (basically the 5 boroughs and Long Island) when someone says, ‘I’m from New York,’ forgetting that upstate New York makes up over 96% of the state’s landmass.
The same goes for the Midwest, west coast, and of course Hawaii. It’s more than one island and most people I’ve encountered have no idea of this fact or that there’s a difference. And while I’m on the subject, it’s more than a tourist destination; people live here and have lives that don’t revolve around your vacation plans.
Okay, let me step down from my soapbox. I’m losing focus. Damn my millennial mind. If you’re a reader of my blog you’re probably used to it and it either keeps you interested or pisses you off. If you’re in the latter category, why are you still reading then, huh, huh?
Seeing old friends is always a blast and the longer the time between last encountering each other the greater the anxiety. For me anyway, that is. Keeping in touch via social media, text and the occasional phone call is one thing but to spend a whole weekend with each other it can hold certain unsavory expectations. Of course, our expectations of situations are always blown out of proportion because we create these scenarios in our minds that play out in the worst possible way. The key to it is recognizing this and moving past it and seeing the anxious nervous feeling as excitement, considering they feel and present themselves exactly the same in our bodies.
That feeling of being uncomfortable feeds off of itself and snowballs into legitimate fear and if it’s allowed can ruin any situation. Realizing that it’s simply an old evolutionary mechanism inside ourselves to keep us away from danger is the best way to approach these circumstances. See we used to be afraid of things to protect ourselves from REAL dangers but we kind of eliminated most of those so now we fear petty things in life and call it anxiety. I do it all the time.
I kept telling myself I was excited for the weekend in Savannah, a new place I had never been, with a few old friends and many new introductions to come. I didn’t allow the feeling I had to be defined as anxiety. That feeling of nervousness I felt about meeting new people or speaking with old friends that I hadn’t spoken to in over a year. I told myself it was excitement and that is what it became.
The moment I saw my friends, the bride and groom to be, old memories surfaced, my excitement peaked, and the anxious expectations disappeared completely. We gathered with a few other friends of ours I also haven’t seen in 5 years and we went to dinner and went out on the town in Savannah. I met new friends, family and more old friends over the next 36 hours. The day of the wedding, reception lunch, and riverboat cruise on the, above pictured, Georgia Queen (picture courtesy of Savannah Riverboats Cruises) and second night out in the heart of Savannah made me forget that over the course of 84 hours (from when I woke up the morning we flew out) I slept only 8 hours (airplane sleep doesn’t count for me because it’s always just in and out of consciousness.)
My first experience with AirBnB was an amazing one and I will definitely try it again in the future. The host couple was southern and extended the hospitality they are so famous for having. They welcomed us into their home and provided us with better care than I have ever had in a hotel. (Okay, maybe not the super fancy high-end places but you have to pay for that type of service and this AirBnB was a steal compared to local hotels in Savannah.) We were 3 blocks from the famous Forsyth Park where the wedding was held and within walking distance of anything we needed. We did Uber to save time from walking everywhere and it is hot there. It’s Georgia for my sake. (I’m Pete; see what I did…never mind.) But at an average of $7 a ride and the extended hospitality of the drivers there, it gave my wife and I a better inside look at the friendly people of Savannah. (Okay, well that one driver did flip a guy off but the guy flipped him off first and was going about ten miles an hour for no reason.)
Right in the heart of the metropolitan area we were near the pulse of the city and made our way north towards the Savannah River both evenings to experience the nightlife it had to offer. It did not disappoint. With places like Top Deck and Vic’s on the River we experienced stunning views of the water and enjoyable atmospheres. The hidden gem, The Alley Cat, gives a historic speakeasy feel in a modern setting and only borders on being too hipster. Places like the conceited Awesome Bar, which is actually on point with its name, and Savannah Smiles Dueling Piano Bar give both locals and tourists a fun environment and plenty of entertainment. The Olde Pink House delivers a true historic feel in the mansion turned restaurant and live music venue. The downtown area hardly feels like it either, with parks scattered every few blocks and the riverfront nearby it’s easy to forget you’re in a metropolitan area.
Tourism helps the city thrive and as a resident of a place that also depends on tourists’ dollars I can appreciate the people of Savannah much more in such a beautiful and historic environment. The city had a great feel to it that didn’t seem too overblown on catering to visitors unlike where I live unfortunately. It seemed to stay true to itself and was welcoming to outsiders as long as they had an understanding that they respect the culture, people, and city. My only wish is that I could have spent more than 36 hours there. Next time Savannah, next time.