When you get a coffee at one of those little cafes in Savannah, regardless of how you take it, be sure to leave room for the experience.
I’ve spent some time there, mostly weekends, while living in the Lowcountry a few years ago.
Savannah isn’t as much a city as it is a narrative.
You’re going to see something. You’re going to hear something.
You’ll touch things. Smell things.
You may even feel, for the first time in a long time.
If you don’t, give it a minute. She’ll show up.
This particular Sunday morning in March, her name is Henry.
I sit at a sidewalk table outside the cafe, sipping my coffee and watching bleary-eyed tourists emerge from the cafe in their bad flowered shirts, holding their mocha latte cliches and sporting Chatham Artillery Punch hair that looks every bit the victim of the two right hooks that come with its promise.
A man wearing little more than tattered cargo shorts and a white undershirt casually strolls across Habersham Street, stepping hard off the curb and crossing at an angle. It’s not yet 9 a.m., and not much of Savannah is up and moving at 9 a.m., so he’s pushing a baby stroller whose rear wheels thud as they drop onto the street.
He stares straight ahead as he crosses, wheelies the stroller back onto the sidewalk, and lowers himself onto a chair at the table next to me, rotating the stroller and pulling the top back.
As I reach for a napkin to dab the Americano off my chin, the man nods toward me. He is wearing sunglasses that look straight out of the Mad Max Thunderdome catalog. “‘Sup, bro?”
“Is he … okay?” I ask. “I mean, like, physically?”
He looks at me a couple seconds, then looks down at Henry.
“Him?” Then looking back toward me.
I nod. “Him, yeah.”
“Oh, that’s Henry. He’s fine. He just doesn’t walk is all.”
Oh no, I think. How tragic!
“Awww, poor guy. I’m sorry to hear that.”
The man chuckles, not even looking up from his newspaper.
“Don’t be,” he says. “He can walk. He just insists I push him in the stroller.”