Not for me

Last weekend I went to Hilton Head Island for a wedding. I spent the day before in Savannah, Georgia and the rest of the time at a seaside resort on the island. The contrasting experiences brought up a really interesting reaction in me.
I loved the old and natural beauty of Savannah. It felt comfortable and relaxed and uncontrived, despite the fact that the grid of streets and parks is obviously designed. I think it must be because nature and the architecture have had nearly 300 years (founded in 1733) to get comfortable with each other.

Hilton Head Island on the other hand, was like living in a magazine spread. You know the ones -- where books on architecture are set on the coffee table and a bowl of lemons become a centerpiece on a beautifully glossy dining table. The reason may come from it's history. In 1663, Captain Hilton "discovered" the island (and named it for himself), but it didn't start it's modern development until the 1950s. There were cotton and indigo plantations and vivid events during the Civil War, but I saw no sign of them. Unsightly retail are screened from the road by stands of trees. When driving to the resort where I was staying, I passed perfectly manicured lawns, elegant stands of palmettos, and regal southern architecture. It was all very beautiful, but a little contrived, a little too organized.

It was fine for a vacation -- in fact, the beautifully designed landscape I could see from my room's deck was one of my favorite parts of the trip -- but I wouldn't want to live in it all the time. I couldn't say if this is the same for the surrounding areas (not the island itself) or that if I were a local I wouldn't find historical and natural activities that would give me a better feel for the land. The experience just gave me a glimpse into what it might be like to be someone with a lot more money and more keyed to status. I can't say I would want to live that way if I did have more money and that's something I didn't know before. Now when I see elegant spreads in magazines, I can look at it with a better perspective. I know I'll shape my home differently, regardless of how much money I make.

(I should have known I felt this way when I once decided against an area rug because it coordinated "too perfectly" with my living room walls and couch. At least I'm consistent.)

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