Charleston, SC – April 16, 2013
I pull the kayak up a bank of oyster shells pilled just above the high tide line. A giant bridge stretches over the water behind me with cars roaring over it into the night. The Ashley River cuts inland on my left, joining the canal I’ve been following to drain toward the ocean.
I spread my tarp on top of the shells, stamping my feet to mash down as many sharp edges as I can before laying down my pad. I pull out my sleeping bag. It’s still wet from humid, rainy nights and no time to dry during the day. It feels muggy and sticks to my skin, but I don’t care anymore, because in front of me, glowing with electric lights, is Charleston.
I’m calm for the first time in weeks. I’ve pushed for so long to get here, to stare at this city, and now it’s rising in front of me with old houses and a fleet of sailboats moored in the river. I smile and stare and eat cold ravioli out of a can.
The days of paddling into the night, the early mornings, the map that never seemed to shrink fast enough, none of them matter against Charleston’s silhouette, against the first domino falling in a long line stretching back to the Northwest Angle.