Among the Green, Green Grass
I had two hours until the meeting. One hundred and twenty minutes to open the door of a hotel room that faced a neon-lit atrium and wander a city I’ve never been. Outside on North Main Street in Greenville, South Carolina, humidity bricked against my face, thick as unmilked cows. And seen: the grass, the shrubs, the willow oaks, wispy along parts of the road, bold in other places, trailing toward the cloudless sky. Cars ambled by with the unhurried air of sweet tea sipped on a slow, creaking porch swing. People clutched to paper-wrapped coffee cups and dog leashes and the rhythm of Monday morning.
Two hours. A lot could be done in that time. I could find a quiet nook for breakfast, discover why grits seemed to hold such charm, scan the sky for the Blue Ridge Mountains, walk to the waterfall a sweaty concierge had insisted held small-town promise.
OK, I’d do that.
The street I turned on was empty except for three construction workers who tipped their heads as I passed. I was searching for signs to Falls Park, which seemed the most likely place a waterfall could be. Down a set of concrete steps, across a paved sidewalk and there I was standing at a river stretched by a bright green bridge. The color fit, I thought, but how could a thinly flowing river be called a waterfall? Where, among the tiny burbles, was the dramatic crescendo of water you’d expect?
Maybe the concierge was wrong. Maybe the grass wasn’t so green.
I snapped one photo and left, hungry and tired from last night’s six-hour plane trip that ended with a flooded hotel bathtub. A short plumber named Grodon, skin tags hanging like a tool belt from his bottom eyelids, appeared at my door. He trudged to the bathroom. The long ropes of skin shook as he shook his head at me, disapproving of the tub, which was dripping water still.
“Are you sure you didn’t flood this thing?” He asked, his voice gravely and low-pitched. “I’ve never seen it overflow before.”
“No, I walked in two minutes ago and saw the water. My suitcases are still unpacked.”
He eyed me warily and his skin tags swung. The grass at 1 a.m. wasn’t so green. I got another room.
Now this morning to a coffee shop, fitted into a wide alley with subway-tiled floors and reclaimed wood tables. Long lanterns dripped from the ceiling, woodsy coffee beans roasted freely, warm in the wind of the open door.
“First time here?” The barista asked, working on my cup of Costa Rican brew.
“Yes, I’m actually looking for the waterfall. I only have about an hour …”
“Oh yeah, plenty of time, it’s close.” He poured my coffee with the ease of an artisan and smiled. His fingernails were purple but all around, things were turning green. “Definitely check the waterfall out, I love going there. If you walk down Main Street and follow the signs, you really can’t miss it.”
I couldn’t, and coffee in hand, I didn’t. Seven minutes later, with fifty three minutes to go, I stood before the massive falls. Six or seven towers of water escaped from the top of a sloping hillside, rushing across sleety boulders until they met the library-soft river I’d seen before. A 350-foot suspension bridge curved around the hill, cables stretching into the trees. How could I not see this before? Was it hiding? Was I?
My phone buzzed.
There on the bridge high above the falling water, I read what the screen announced. An email: Congratulations! You’ve been accepted into the Female Founder Collective. This was an opportunity to join the newly formed network’s prestigious ranks, it read. This was a chance to learn and grow from some of the nation’s top female leaders.
There was something magically right about receiving the news just then, perched above a magic city with secrets to share, misted by the spray of a tremendous waterfall I almost didn’t find, happy among the green, green grass.
Read more about the Female Founders Collective here.