Built in 1820 by John Robinson, the Aiken-Rhett House is considered to be one of the best preserved townhouse complexes in the nation. The house was majorly expanded by Governor William Aiken, Jr and his wife in the 1830s and again in the 1850s. The house is a great example of Antebellum life in Charleston with its grand piazzas and large elegant rooms. It stayed in the Aiken family for 142 years before being sold to the Charleston Museum.
The Charleston Museum decided to preserve the condition of the home rather than restore it, which makes this a unique and personal favorite of mine. The walls, floors, and furnishings are tattered and beautiful. It's a must-see for history and architecture lovers!
I recently traveled to the UK on the most epic vacation of my life thus far. We rented a car and drove over 1,000 miles through the countryside up to Scotland and back to London again. It was amazing. I will be going back.
While we were there, we visited the Brontë Parsonage and Museum in Haworth. Imagine if you can, you're an American driving in an oversized vehicle (for the UK) on a teeny oneway street up the hillside with duel traffic. It's foggy, so much so that you cannot capture the amazing scene before you on camera. But your eyes, sensitive to all the greatness in the world, are witnessing the most awe-inspiring landscape of your life. The green rolling hills are speckled with white sheep, water trickles down the side of the road as it mists. Halfway up the hillside, a small pond gathers glimmers of the gray sky and swirling clouds.
Quaint stone buildings, centuries old, line the roadway once you finally reach the town. There's no where to park, barely anywhere to drive. As soon as you hear the "ding" of your car alarm and your feet hit the cobblestone, you're thrown back in time. Not even your phone works.
You take a few steps past an ancient-looking church, an even older cemetery, up to a picturesque home where the Brontë sisters lived and wrote. Your literary heart thumps; you can hardly wait to get inside. Once there, you touch everything they'll allow. Charlotte used this doorknob. Emily leaned against this railing. And the stairs. How many times did they look down at each other from the landing?
I stood in the same room they wrote their masterpieces, and I couldn't help but be both sad and elated.
Sad because they all died way too young.
Elated because I had an opportunity to feel the soul of the place they left behind.
I read Jane Eyre for the first time when I was seventeen and Wuthering Heights a few years later. I could picture the cold, wet hills in the English countryside, and walking through Haworth, I saw what my younger self had only imagined. That's how talented they were. They gave me such a clear picture of something I'd never seen that it was like having déjà vu when I finally did see it.
I love old places for the same reason I love the Brontë's home. Their stories inspire me. If walls could talk, I'd invite them for coffee.
I've always wanted to see NYC. The big screens of Times Square, the booming voices of Broadway, the Statue of Liberty, and the Empire State Building. I wanted to bustle down the crowded streets and look up into the sky and see buildings kissing the clouds.
This past weekend, I experienced it all and so much more. It was as amazing as I always thought it would be.
It was a grand time of FIRST TIMES:
The entire city is a giant breathing advertisement. There are ads in the cabs and subways. Everyone, everywhere is trying to sell you something. But perhaps what New York is really trying to sell you is life. Go live, travel, shop, play, skate, see, and dream. Know that even the sky isn't the limit. Look around. Look up.
The Empire State Building was built in the midst of the Great Depression. The Twin Towers still glow in memory of the fallen, and now the united trade center towers overhead and stands in guard of its memorial.
New York is a symbol of America's ambition and resilience. It's truly something to see.
Several people have asked me what my best experience there was, and you may be surprised by my answer. There are those moments in life that define you. The pre-experience you and the post-experience you. Visiting Hillsong Church was one of those spiritually defining moments for me. The pastor, Carl Lentz, shared an amazing message that still has me thinking. He left us with three questions to ponder, and now I'm leaving them with you.
*You will reap a harvest. There is no reality HE cannot change. Keep your head up!
So long New York. Until our paths meet again.