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Wednesday, February 17, 2016

A Farewell to Charleston

It seems like far fewer months have slipped by since I moved south from New York, that last farewell bidding passage to one of the most formative periods in my life. Two years have come and gone, and in the blink of an eye I once more set foot to the road which takes me far beyond comfort and expectation, friends and family, and again into the unknown trails of travel and adventure.

Four times since arriving in Charleston I have moved, seeing each time a different part of the city and what it has to offer, from the outlying wastelands that stand as a grim reminder to what once stood beside the great ports, the vast forested swamps, to the old world given new life in one of the elder cities of the south, and through it all have come to many places I would never have expected both externally and within.

There are higher forms of articulation than the spoken or written word, and often times it is those which define our place in this world. Through the sharing of experiences, the struggle of labour, the sweetness of triumph, the joy of many meetings and the sorrow of inevitable partings, there comes to stand against fading passage of time those memories which endure long after our absence. For hundreds of years these places have endured, countless hundreds of thousands passing through, and although rarely our mark is left behind, it is the places we habit that in turn mark us. And still we move on.

From shore to summit in these passing months, eleven new mountains have passed beneath my feet, fifteen states along the road, five hundred miles cycled and a dozen breweries toured often more than once. There has been hardship where there has also been great nurturing to the soul. There have been many joyous days when there have been countless sleepless nights. Through storms and fairer tides, in a word I now depart weathered. Neither numb nor bitter but rather stronger and more aware. For as I begin the journey west as so many before me have done in times of exploration and expansion, it is with the knowing that, both far too soon and long overdue, my time here has at last come to an end.

Looking back to when I first arrived, there has come to me knowledge beyond measure and experience beyond number. Intrinsically, practically, and through the meticulous trial of being thrust into the maelstrom where there is neither time nor safeguard for the cost of failure. And through it all, I have found myself once more surprised by what has become of it. I have turned dirt into steel using methods not seen on this continent for over a hundred years, forged swords from meteorite, bound books and built instruments, recreated 11th century Europe as the Vikings knew it, seen into the far reaches of this corner of the world and most importantly, shared in the experience we call life with people who I will forever call my kin.

There lies over the lowlands a sort of tribal wisdom that takes from all who pass through its dominion, in turn providing something unique to those who seek its voice. Spanish moss hangs like an old man's beard over all things rooted and grown, and those things too which have withered and remain only as a legacy to the land they once served, each one becoming part of the land's undying spirit. Indeed, it has left its mark upon me and to whichever distant places my journey takes me, I will remember my time here and the people who made its worth.

While there are things left here undone which I would rather have seen come to some conclusion, it is how it must be, and no amount of time will ever change that fact. On the eve of departure to the Golden Coast, I realise how far I have come and how different I am in the passing years, months, and days even since I arrived in the Holy City.

Farewell, Charleston.

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