I know it is rare to share a post over a holiday but with a recent trip to Charleston South Carolina I feel Independence Day is the perfect time to share a recent experience I had with my best friends in the world. As we age, life often takes many twists and turns. Fortunately for me the one constant in my life has always been my strong connections with my best girlfriends. Most of my friendships have lasted over a decade and over half of them have spanned over two decades. These women have seen me through the best of times and also through the worst of times and as families are expanding and the miles between us get longer we always find a way to carve much needed time together into our hectic schedules.
This year, we chose Charleston SC because my gorgeous friend is six months pregnant and lives within driving distance of the quaint little city. We have a love for all things culinary and the cocktail scene was an added bonus. My maid of honor is essentially the social director of all our trips so we left everything up to her. We went to Poogan’s Porch and Paw Paw for meals and Prohibition and Republic for cocktails. On Saturday we decided to walk off brunch by strolling through King’s Street to the water and making a detour past Southern Charm star Patricia Altschul’s palatial estate. Charleston is chock full of charming curb appeal that truly takes you back to another time.
Towards the end of the day we decided to get out of dodge and head out to Boone Hall Plantation in Mt. Pleasant which is about twenty minutes outside of Charleston city center. Boone Hall is the perfectly maintained working plantation where Ryan Reynolds and Blake Lively got married and also the set of “Ali’s” parents house in “The Notebook“. The rows of oak trees lining the entrance truly takes you back to another time and if you are in Charleston I strongly suggest you taking an afternoon to spend the day learning and enjoying the grounds.
To the left of the house stands “slave street”. The slave and sharecroppers quarters that date back to the 1700’s. What I did not know is that the Boone Hall Plantation essentially set the stage for slavery in the early 1700’s and although we have learned about our countries dark past, it is an entirely different experience to see it first hand. As a visitor of Boone Hall you can join a tour or simply walk through slave street as stories of slaves past are described over surround sound. My heart broke almost immediately, but it was not until I saw dog-like collars that slaves were forced to wear and a price list for my ancestors that I completely fell apart. In today’s society we are still feeling the effects of slavery and discrimination based on skin color, and although there is still much work to be done I feel eternally grateful for all of those who fought for the life my family, friends and I live today.
In the last slave quarter my friends and I were able to read a timeline of black American history that dated all the way back to 1617! Slavery lasted over 200 years before life in America started to shift. By shift I mean a little ripple in the ocean of life. It was not until 1967 that the Loving Decision made interracial marriage legal in the United States. Can you believe that? Because of the brave men and women who came before me I exist, my family, my marriage and my siblings marriages exist. We are free to love whomever, eat wherever and live free of burden. For all of those things, I am forever grateful!
I know the old saying goes: “ignorance is bliss”, but I believe knowledge is power. The Boone Hall Plantation was a life changing experience for me and I know it will be a special place to share with our children one day. It is a living testimony of courage and strength and a fight that many Americans continue to fight every single day. By the time I got home I felt mildly depressed, a little hungover and full of gratitude for the life I get to live and the friendships that make up the fabric of my life.
So I did what any normal girl would do. I watched The Notebook (many scenes shot in Charleston and Boone Hall), took a nap and gave my husband all the kisses in the world.
America the free. Home of the brave.