Wednesday, August 01, 2012

The Creative Pilgrimage

My sneaking off to Savannah included some multi-tasking; I had to do some research, plus manage a college tour for my youngest. The fact that I also paid a visit to E. Shaver booksellers was simply for research materials, and had nothing to do with my inability to walk past a fabulous book shop without stopping, browsing and purchasing something.

I finally got to show my guy the place I most love in the South (it was his first visit, and you should have seen the look on his face when we walked inside the Cathedral of St. John.) Savannah is a city for people like us who love to walk, and despite the heat we ditched our car at the hotel and went on foot just about everywhere.

I wasn't entirely unselfish while visiting my favorite southern city, either. I needed Savannah to boost me creatively, something it always does without fail. It's why every couple of years I have to go back; it's one of my most important creative strongholds. When I'm there, sitting on a bench in one of the city's beautiful squares, or walking through one of the grand old historic neighborhoods, or standing by the river to watch the ships come into port, I'm infused with constant delight.

During this trip I spent an hour inside my favorite Savannah landmark, the Owens-Thomas house, soaking up all that amazing architecture and atmosphere while I sketched little details that always seem new no matter how often I see them: the golden light pouring through the Greek key window in the front room, the graceful curves of the pottery in the kitchen, the dark streaky glow of the wood and brass banisters of the inner staircase. Everything in and around that house enveloped me and my imagination, comforting and warming and knowing -- and that's only one house. There are countless houses like that in Savannah, just waiting to be seen and appreciated.

I brought some of my troubles and concerns to the city, too, but they never seem quite as huge or insurmountable there. While we were at St. John's I lit a candle for a friend who is going through a tough time, and later sent her a postcard I picked up in the cathedral. At our hotel I met the mother of a young writer who will be attending the same college we came to see, and we talked about our kids and the school and the Publishing business. Savannah has a unique way of reminding you that you're not alone in your worries, and there's always time to talk and figure things out and even dream a little.

Making a creative pilgrimage isn't about traveling as much as it's about finding yourself in a place. I don't really know why Savannah has such a strong hold on my heart; I've never lived there, and neither has anyone in my family. It's just a place where I am so comfortable, and so much at home that part of me always lives there no matter where I am.

Where do you go when you need to make a creative pilgrimage? Why do you think your particular place rejuvenates you? Let us know in comments.


  1. Nicosian2:12 AM

    Amsterdam. I got to live there for three months last year and its my "creative place." I had a house to myself, in Haarlem, a city just outside Amsterdam itself. But everytime i need to recharge I think back to all the gorgeous streets, the canals, the old houses, the history, the vibrancy of the place and I long to go back. I left a huge part of my heart there. The museums, the culture, the whole thing. I have family and friends there. I can't say it was one thing, it was the entire package.

    Its where I started the novel over after a 6 yr hiatus, and its now finished its edits and going for print check. So clearly it had an effect.

    I have to go back soon.:D

  2. Actually going anywhere will do it for me. I kinda fell in love with Sleepy Hollow, New York, though. Loved it.

  3. Anne V.9:59 AM

    The mountains of Colorado-specifically Estes Park. There is something about the rugged mountains and the untouched feel of some of the lakes that cleans my soul.

  4. Getting close to the water always restores me. I think it's because the steadiness of the tide coming in and going out shows me that my problems aren't nearly as big a deal as I sometimes think.

  5. There is a graveyard a few miles from my house; it's very isolated and rarely driven past (except by police). Trees that have been there for over a hundred years and fabulous old mausoleums, beautiful landscaping and it gets a fabulous breeze on the 100+ degree days. I don't know why exactly I started going there (b/c I have no one buried there), but after a god awful day it's the first place I go to wind down.

  6. Lovely pictures of Savannah. I've only visited once but am dying to make a return trip. Ft.Lauderdale is my favorite go-to place--the ocean, palm trees,and sandy beaches seem to put everything in perspective for me.


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