I moved my daughter to Savannah. Six little words. Four short days in June of ’08. An experience of a lifetime.
Meg had accepted an internship at a hospital in Savannah, Georgia, to begin in early June this year. After weeks of packing to fit as much in and on her car, we stuffed ourselves in and drove straight through to sunny Savannah. I think it took us 20 hours; much of it is as blurry as the scenery in Ohio in the middle of the night.
With absolutely NO help from the Sony GPS — honestly, this thing was useless! — we found our way to Waldburg Street, a lovely tree-covered brick-lined street within a mile of downtown Savannah. This is where Meg had arranged to live, via the internet and Craig’s List, for the next 5 months. It sounded great: Four bedrooms, two bathrooms; two girls and two guys would share this big place in a safe neighborhood for a great price. Sounds good; right?
We found the place around 7:00 p.m., went up on the porch and knocked on what we hoped was the right door, suddenly wondering ‘what’ was going to greet us on the other side. With relief the door was opened by a young “Carrot Top” looking fellow named Dick wearing shorts, tee, and a woolen hat. He helped us unload and carry up box after box and bag after bag of Meg’s belongings — up 18 stairs and into her new bedroom. And it was a beautiful room. This is an old, old home with 11-foot ceilings, 8″ molding, hardwood floors, tall windows, and a fireplace in every room. Gorgeous. Sam showed up a little later and introduced himself and his girlfriend. After going out and getting some dinner and discussing her new place, we returned to the house to get ready for some much-needed sleep. Scurrying back and forth to the bathroom across the hall getting ourselves dressed for bed, we eventually blew up her queen-sized air bed and settled in.
It wasn’t until around 2:00 a.m. that I awoke to the hard wooden floor beneath my butt and my head and feet angled upwards like a “V”. My sharp intellect told me that the air was slowly leaving the air bed. Meg still seemed pretty comfortable, which again, thanks to that same sharp mind, reminded me that she was simply lighter than me — apparently by quite a bit. The not-so-sharp-but-keen-sense-of-humor part of me thought I’d just flip around to the foot of the bed where there was more air. That began a laughing jag that eventually woke Meg up wondering what the hell was so funny in the middle of the night. (She obviously didn’t inherit that keen sense of humor.) Her response to my hilarity sobered me up eventually, and the next thing I knew the sun was lighting up the room and it was time to get moving again.
After getting the car’s a/c repaired, we spent much of the next day with the classifieds looking in the Help Wanteds for bartenders. We visited the famed Kevin Barry’s, walked around beautiful downtown Savannah and even hit a small yarn shop. We headed to a coffee shop that offered wi-fi and hooked up to check our emails while we considered possibly asking around about other places to rent. We talked back and forth about how interesting the house was, how it could really be a learning experience living within a multi-cultural neighborhood, how she really wasn’t going to be there all that much. At the same time I was fighting this nagging feeling about her coming home in the wee hours of the morning after bartending and entering that street, that front porch, unlocking the deadbolt, climbing the stairs. I didn’t like it. But done was done.
Climbing the stairs that night to the beat of some alternative rock amid the sweet smell of cannibus burning my nose stirring up old college memories, we met who turned out to be the fourth roommate – Zach – who was definitely NOT a girl. Getting Sam’s attention, we called him into the bedroom and asked about the other girl who supposedly lived there. Sam’s response was that she had to move last month — someone died? — Zach was going to be evicted, and he was trying to find another girl. Meg looked at me, I looked at Meg, and at approximately the same time we responded, “Uh, no. This isn’t going to work.” After a little discussion, Sam agreed to get Meg’s deposit back, and we would be looking for another place the next day. Sleep was a bit more difficult coming that night with this added stress. Meg needed to find a paying gig to get her through the next four months of her internship, which was 40 hours a week of a NOT paid gig. AND, we now had one day to find her another apartment. I was leaving the day after tomorrow.
The next day progressed with such disarray that I can’t really put it all down in order. Suffice it to say, by 4:30 p.m. we’d been in many apartments further from the downtown area. After finally settling on a cute one-bedroom place that would accept a short-term lease, we were scrambling to come up with the security deposit and the three months rent needed for said short-term lease. Calls back home to arrange for a wire transfer failed miserably. We also discovered that most of the banks in Savannah closed at 4:00. One bank – Wachovia – was open until 5:00, and they assisted with a cash advance on a credit card. We cleared the bank at five minutes to 5:00. Now we needed cashier checks because the apartment complex couldn’t accept cash. After visiting two drug stores, CVS turned our cash into checks and we raced back to the complex where the manager was getting ready to leave at 5:00. She graciously waited for us and accepted the cashier checks, had Meg sign all the papers and gave her the key to her new apartment. Now all we had to do was repack the car and move all her stuff!
Don’t ask me what the three guys smoking weed on the balcony of her first apartment wondered when she and I began hauling her stuff back out to the car while they sat and watched. And don’t ask me what the neighbors thought when two days after moving her into the place we were moving her back out. I’m sure the residents of the homes on either side, both elderly blacks, were chuckling to themselves as this little white child and her momma moved in and moved out. We didn’t care. We knew we wouldn’t be seeing them again. It took us a couple hours, but by 7:30 p.m. we had all Meg’s stuff loaded into her little one-bedroom apartment, her new air bed set up (thanks, WalMart), and some necessary groceries and bug spray in place. The next morning, after a firm and restful sleep, Meg drove me to the airport, squeezed me hard in thanks, and I flew home to Michigan.
The rest of the story is that Meg did finish her internship with flying colors while struggling to pay her bills working up to three jobs in addition to her full-time hospital commitment. She never did fulfill her lease in her new place since we discovered, in late September, that she lived directly adjacent to a very dangerous area where there’d been enough gunshots outside her window she felt compelled to move her bed away from it. The weekend she discovered there’d been a murder committed practically outside her door, she finally called to inform us she needed to get the hell outta there. She was home within the week. And now she’s looking for a job in her new career field and realizing that maybe it’s not where you live but who you know where you live, and that perhaps the grass isn’t always greener elsewhere.