Michael Jeffrey Lee



All in all, the trip went well.

Savannah was beautiful.

It ended up being fine.

Eliza was in our hiking group.

She asked us to accompany her.

Of course it was hard for Eliza—it had only been a year.

We saw the room, the actual bed.

It was a four-poster.

A painting of a sunset hung above it.

We didn't stay in the room.

The same b n' b, though.

Sweet Time Blue.

The walls were robin's egg.

Two older ladies ran it: Eunice and Pauline.

African-American ladies.

They had a helper named Jones.

Eliza wanted to thank them.

They'd assisted in the aftermath.

Comforted her, arranged for the cremation.

We didn't know what to expect.

We had no idea what we'd do.

Our husbands gave us the go ahead.

Four days, three nights in Savannah, Georgia.

The colonial capital.

The place Sherman burned.

This wasn't going to be any ordinary vacation.

We decided to let Eliza lead.

What she wanted to do was what we wanted to do.

We packed all kinds of clothes.

Clothes for walking, clothes for going out.

We didn't sleep well, though.

The room was small—two queens and a cot crammed in.

Eliza snored, but it wasn't that.

We kept hearing noises.

Little whooshes, the sound of steps.

We were tired most mornings, but the coffee with chicory helped.

It's a root that grows in the south.

And the food was good on the whole.

Eliza liked it.

The fish at Traditions was bad, though.

The Thai place was the favorite.

Mostly we just walked downtown.

Saw the squares, the Spanish moss.

It was hard on Eliza, though—she spoke often of Paul.

"We were right here a year ago," she'd say, or "When we were here he said…"

It'd been a good trip before he died.

Apparently his mouth was open.

A heart attack, but peaceful as those things go.

In Forsyth Park we saw the fountain.  

Eliza had to take a minute there.

"I just need a minute," she said.

She sat down on a bench.

She buried her face in her hands.

This lasted about an hour. 
We were patient, but we thought we were going to melt.

It was May but already so hot.

Then we visited a day spa.

Gracious Day was the name.

Eliza wouldn't let us pay.

"The trip was my idea," she said, "so the spa is my treat."

We took a two-hour mud bath.

Cucumbers on our eyes.

Up to our necks in that stuff.

We also saw the river walk, and visited the shops.

I bought some stocking stuffers.

We found a garden, too, one built for the blind.

We stopped and closed our eyes—we tried to imagine what it was like.

Also, there were thunderstorms.

The stillness just before them.

We got caught in one, took shelter in a museum.

The Savannah History Museum.

We saw a ladies' antebellum outfit, and a prop from Forrest Gump.

We also made it to MOMA.

"Let's look at some art," Eliza said, and so we did.

What she wanted to do was what we wanted to do.

She also suggested a ghost tour.

At first we protested—it seemed too morbid.

"Don't worry, girls," she joked. "I don't think Paul's on it."

Sometimes she made jokes.

A man with a ponytail led us.

He told violent, hair-raising stories.

If they pained Eliza she didn't say so.

Eventually she broke down, though.

On the cemetery tour—also her idea.

This guide was a little older.

He seemed more sensitive, his voice softer.

He walked us through Bonaventure, unspooling the history.

I found my mind wandering.

I found him hard to follow.

At the bird-girl statue, that's where Eliza finally lost it.

The one from Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.

We all got emotional—the guide gave us our space.

We also saw Mercer House.

Also from Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.

There was talk of going to Tybee Island.

There was also talk of going to Wormsloe.

But the days were already so full.  

Eliza got her wish, though—some alone time with Eunice and Pauline.

They took tea together in the parlor.

We decided to go our separate ways.

I walked for a while, then browsed in a bookstore.

I also had a cup of coffee at Savannah Coffee Roasters.

I also had a nice conversation with Jones.

On our last night we went out.

"It's our last night," Eliza said. "We should get all dolled up."

We went to a jazz club—a first for us.

We all danced, even Eliza.

Of course the pinot grigio helped.

The pinot grigio always helps.  

On the flight home Eliza thanked us.

She couldn't stop thanking us.

Last time she'd flown alone, with Paul's ashes in her lap.  

"This time I have my friends," she said.

The flight was a bit scary, though.

At one point the cabin lost pressure, and the masks came down.

For a few moments, we thought we were going to die.

"I'm not ready," I thought, looking around. 

"No one's ready."   

Then the pilot brought us to a safer altitude, and we breathed normally again.     

It was a good trip.

It was a good trip and I'm glad we went.

I'm glad I went.

It was a good trip, all in all.






This story wanted to be a story but then it just became thoughts. It's dedicated to my mother, still the most interesting storyteller I know.