Tuesday, August 11, 2009
In the Heat of the Night
"Now I know I'm ready. Pour the night into a glass. Can I sip it slow and make it last?"
-- Norah Jones, Above Ground
I get the impression that it's impossible to be ambivalent about Savannah.
I pulled into this town around sunset; I'm only now settling in for the evening. From what I've been told by the locals -- or at the very least an attractive bartender from Pittsburgh and her comic foil, a server from my hometown of Miami -- it's the hottest day and night of the year so far. It sure as hell feels like it. Having grown up in South Florida I figured I was pretty familiar with heat and humidity, but I've never experienced anything even remotely similar to the punishing, damn near overpowering sauna that is Savannah, Georgia in August. Every window I passed tonight -- each keeping out the oppressive wet air and keeping in the comforting chill of an overworked AC -- seemed to be crying condensation. It's an image that fits this place perfectly; the entire town feels as if it's in a state of beautiful, sensuous decay.
The trees drip moss. The primordial brick walls bleed color, as if the details had been freshly painted on and some unseen hand were now pouring water on the canvas from above. The cobblestones that make up the narrow gaslit roads and endless alleyways look like islands surrounded by glistening black moisture that seems to have appeared from nowhere.
It's as if everything is sweating -- your own body included.
To be uncharacteristically, although somehow appropriately, blunt -- Savannah makes you want to throw open the doors and windows, let the living, breathing night flood in, and fuck until there's nothing left inside of you. Maybe not even your soul.
It's Southern Gothic at it's most wonderous, dangerous and mysterious. There's a reason so much gorgeously malevolent poetry has been written here: It's literally, in the most exquisite and alluring way possible, a ghost town.
And as I look out over its dark, quiet streets from my hotel room window -- it strangely feels like home.