What I Got from Where I Been

sweet-grass-basket-jason-moore

This post will probably not be half so interesting as the redneck title.
Hi guys! In keeping of my promise to keep my wandering brain in check, this will not be another random post about my life, but instead the “Question of the Week” thing. The last one was “How Do People Change?”
This time, I drew #89 from the list…
“What are the Best Souvenirs You’ve Ever Collected While Traveling?”
Well I’ll be darned (still said in redneck voice.) This question isn’t quite as deep, introspective, and mentally enhancing as I had hoped, but we will go for it anyway.
There may be a point where it becomes deep, introspective, and mentally enhancing despite the triviality of the actual question.
MOVIN ON…( if you said that like a redneck than you deserve a good slap on the back.)
The reason why I am talking about rednecks so much is that one of my most recent awesome souvenirs came from a trip that me and a friend took to Auburn, Alabama. On the way down, we drove through Myrtle Beach. Seriously, I have never seen so many put-put golf courses anywhere else in the USA–there were dinosaur themed ones, pirate themed ones, space themed ones. Whoever owns those probably has a monopoly on tourism–probably gives out annual family put-put passes like amusement park owners and aquariums do. At any rate, that was Myrtle Beach, but when we reached Charleston, South Carolina, it was a completely different story. The golf course dinosaurs vanished, and instead there appeared these little wooden huts alongside the highway.
“What are those? Hobo houses?” My friend asked.
“I don’t know.” I shrugged.
It was culture shock. We wondered if  these were the dwelling places of the slum. Most of the huts were small, about the size of a small bathroom. Others were only large enough to fit a chair into. Some had sheets in front of the door. Some had no roof, only wooden slats spaced far enough apart to block out some of the afternoon sun.
Eventually, we saw a sign. “Sweet Grass Baskets.”
Say what?
So apparently, making and selling sweet grass baskets is a tradition specific to the African American heritage of Charleston. The artisans actually pick the grass growing alongside the highway, make the baskets, set up shop, and sell them to tourists and residents. It’s a pretty cool tradition.
By the way, the picture above is of a sweet grass basket. Most of them have a style similar to that, some with open swirls in the middle, or decorative rims, or braids of grass running through the rest of the plain weaving. Also, most of them were 200 or more dollars, so my friend and I only got the 15 dollar keychain to satisfy our curiosity.
That being said, if you ever go to Charleston, South Carolina, you will know that the little wooden huts are not hobo houses. And you will know that it is very amusing to say “sweet grass baskets” like a die-hard, Confederate flag flying, pickup-truck driving, squirrel-cooking, Southerner. Try it! Be a redneck for a moment…”Zweeeet Graaaazz Baaaaazkitz.” There you go!
That being said…Honestly, the best thing you can bring back from any trip is experience. And troubleshooting skills.  You may wear that “I ❤ NYC” shirt for a couple years, or let that snowglobe collect dust on your dresser…and they may be reminders of your vacation. But someday, they will break or tear or get lost. And then you’ll only have the memories and experiences to look back to. The three hour wait along the highway for a tow truck. Passing out on a bathroom floor during a Michigan blizzard. Snuggling with someone you love around a campfire– after you tried to get the tent up while it was raining. The weird look your kid gets for screaming on the airplane, but the adorable smile he gives you afterward. The awkward tourist you met in a coffee shop.
Those are the things that are yours to keep…much more so than souvenirs.
Can you pull a life lesson out of this? I bet you can!
Have a great Monday, and tell me–what you got from where you been?

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