Photo courtesy of the author.
1. Sweet tea
It feels like the obvious choice, but I didn’t know what sweet tea was until I moved to Charleston. It blew my freakin’ mind yo. Now, unless I want to spend half a day brewing my own, I have to settle for Arizona Iced Tea’s nasty knockoff version.
You don’t realize how the weather affects your mood until you’ve lived somewhere that’s sunny and tepid nine months out of the year. I go into a deep depression when it’s cloudy and gray.
3. Anything from Five Loaves Café
And by anything, I mean tuna salad made with dill, grainy mustard, sliced red grapes, and topped with cheddar cheese on a croissant, with a cup of crabmeat tomato tarragon soup.
4. Tanned skin
Everyone looks better with a tan. It’s a fact. And it’s easy to get one in Charleston merely just by being outside, walking from place to place or hanging out in Marion Square Park. It’s amazing how pale I’ve become from hiding indoors.
5. Watching your step
I can’t help it — after dealing with jagged bricks and tripping one too many times along St. Phillip Street, I have become addicted to staring at even the smoothest of pavements. It’s saved my ass more than a few times.
6. Tommy’s Texas Cheese Fries
Who cares that Tbonz is one of the most-touristy places you can eat on Market Street? Potato wedges covered in cheese, bacon, and ranch dressing, then top-broiled to crispy perfection. I used to work there and have fond memories of my coworkers sneaking me alcohol under the table when my GM wasn’t looking. The flavor brings me back every time.
I’ll wear a Lilly Pulitzer sundress to bowling alley, and I think it’s strange when a guy goes out to a bar and doesn’t wear a polo or some khaki pants and boat shoes.
8. AC’s brunch
I got used to $1.50 mimosas and a white-trash omelets while watching Star Trek porn every Sunday. Things haven’t been the same since.
The closest thing I can compare it to is maybe Dr. Pepper. It’s so hard to find the sweet, carbonated, cherry-syrup drink outside of the South. Abdul who ran the College Corner bodega across the street from my apartment always had a cold one ready after class.
10. Juanita Greenberg’s nachos
More like a Mexican pizza, I’ve yet to find the same style of nacho outside of Charleston. Fresh chicken, pico, guaco, cheese, and black beans baked on a huge tortilla and served with a pitcher of iced margaritas? I NEED them now.
11. Lightweight clothing
When it’s Charleston hot, you try and wear the least amount of clothing possible. Anything made of linen or cotton with the thinnest straps or the shortest hemline — basically walking around as close to naked as possible — is currently in my closet, but absolutely not conducive to the climate of New York.
12. The smell of the marsh
It’s super earthy, and usually the most pungent after a strong rain has passed, but while it’s no match to the gardenias in Battery Park, it is somewhat of an addicting scent, or at least something that makes you feel a bit more relaxed and at ease.
13. Cheap cigarettes and gas
I’m not trying to take the piss out of the link between smoking and addiction, but for reals, when cigs go for less than $3 a pack at King Street Station, it’s hard not to take up smoking. I quit the habit when I moved away because I couldn’t justify spending $11 on something I knew was horrible for my health. Gasoline is a little different, that’s more of an emotional pull; I cry a little every time I fill up my tank in New York, knowing that in Charleston the savings per gallon could probably pay for half a pack of cigarettes.
“FREE SAAAAAAMPLLLEEEE!” was the call to action walking along Market Street, going from candy shop to candy shop filling up on overly-sweet praline candy. No one gives out free samples these days unless you go to Costco.
15. Shots of Grand Ma
No one will give you a shot of Grand Marnier outside of Charleston. It’s just not done. Which is all the more reason I crave it.
16. Slow pace of life
It was hard adjusting to a life where things just got done when they got done, and people shrugged off their problems with a perpetual “no worries” attitude. But then I did, and now I can’t seem to deal with deadlines and everyone walking so fast and always being to busy to just sit around and talk about nothing.