There is a saying: "you can never go home"
This have proven to be somewhat fact this trip. Realizing that this will never be the place I remember has been a bit difficult, but somewhat comforting. Even further, I have now started to wonder if it ever was the way I remember. Was I just romanticizing the glorious southern gentile way of life? Most likely, yes. Here I was defending the south with intense vigor... "NO! It isn't like that Hollywood rendering! There is no more racism in the south than anywhere else. In fact, I would say there is more here in California that there!"
Perhaps I was right, but not completely. It is a hell of a thing to hear your family members, ones that you have respected all of your life, throw out racial slur after slur, especially in that southern gentile tone and vernacular. Moreover, it is also hard to hear no one, including myself, especially myself, challenge these statements.
I did go surfing, the waves had some surprising size, but the wind was up so the water was choppy. My old board, that I have had since high school, had no wax left on it, so it was a slippery affair. BUT... Fun in its own right as there were no wet suits to don or travel board bags to deal with. I just went, and got in the water, Something I would never do in the cold waters of northern California.
BUT! True to form on this memory altering journey there was another realization. While drying off and looking at the washing machine that was the Atlantic Ocean, A group of middle aged, sun beaten folks pulled up on a golf cart. Because, while it isn't okay to drink on the beach, it is seemingly legal and kosher to do such in a golf cart while riding on the same roads as cars. Not long after they pulled up came the cloud of alcohol. You could almost see it in the air like a heat from a desert road. They cheerfully and drunkenly engaged me in conversation that quickly led to the difference of the way I remember Folly Beach, and the current reality that is Folly Beach. When I was here, Folly was a turd. It was a great turd but it was still shitty. Now, someone has gone and tried to polish this turd. YOU CAN'T POLISH A TURD!!! The drunks in the golf cart argued against this profusely. It ended with me saying "well, I suppose I am always one to hold on to nostalgia." And a once blonde, perhaps once beautiful, leather skinned woman with a cigarette that was about a foot long said "well you hold on to your nostalgia and your ass and at least you will have something!" What really sucks is that she is right, even though she was a real bitch about it. I should have told her to hold on to hers and she'd have a lot more than me. But with an extra long cigarette and that sippy cup fully of whiskey, she didn't have any more hands.
In one stroke of redemption, the south is still a very polite place to be. My server at lunch today had a warmth about her that is the south that I remember. People generally greet you with a smile that always seems genuine, or at least that is what I am gonna tell myself...