I ended with a bang in the Crescent City. My last day began with ten pounds of crayfish and a warm afternoon by the pool. I finally perfected my crayfish technique and can suck the meat out of the tail in one delicious movement. The bracingly cold pool felt perfect. With the permission of her two mommies, I jumped in holding Ella June Fitzgerald, their lovable and rambunctious pitbull mutt. I’ll miss throwing sticks for her in the empty lot near Anh’s house where I spent many hours thinking and throwing as Ella kept up a constant gallop.
We sat by the pool talking under a thorny vine with small white flowers. Meg, Ella’s other mommy besides my girl Anh, loves talking politics and history. She’ll make a great professor some day. I really like Wesley, their old roommate. On a visit from grad school in Athens, GA, he initially met the girls through couchsurfing and then moved in with them when he came to New Orleans. A quiet thinker, he often plays the guitar while singing folk songs or wistful ballads by Dylan. I ended that night with him on the porch of the abandoned house next door, smoking and talking about the important things in life.
We left the pool to get ready for a fancy dinner with Meg’s mom. The girls used this dinner to coerce me into staying an extra night although it doesn’t take much to keep me in NOLA. I’m not a picky eater but I found the food bland and myself in a tired and irritable mood. I contemplated staying in for my last night.
Revival occurred at home with tiny shots of whiskey in Vietnamese tea cups. I got stuck with the teapot. Four springbreakers staying at the house returned, friends of Anh’s roommate Ryan, a fellow BU grad and heckuva cool cat. They started getting loud and excited, the craziness welling up. We started by listening to rockabilly at the Apple Barrel and I said goodbye to Monica, my favorite bartender, with assurances that I’ll be back soon because I can’t stay away. We danced at dba and I received the highest compliments ever on my dance moves, “Hey, you’re not that bad.” We got home late but more whiskey shots convinced everyone to follow me on a last adventure.
We went to an abandoned copper smelting factory that I explored earlier. Last time, I found the atmosphere gloomy, spooky and mysterious; the rain from the night before dripped everywhere, various cadences rising up to a small symphony. I spooked myself down the long dark halls with niches on either side resembling crypts. Now on my second trip surrounded by people, it felt like a holiday. I proudly led the crowd through the twists and turns of rusty stairs, across giant empty rooms with huge pieces of equipment hulking in the corner and up to the roof: a wonderful view of New Orleans, Algiers Point and the bridge connecting them.
I wanted to see more, remember everything of this town I love. Only one way to do it: up the smokestacks towering over the factory roof. I don’t like heights and therein lay my main motivation. It took ten minutes of fearful climbing, looking only at the rivets in front of me, pushing down thoughts of my hands failing, reassuring myself that in my long career of monkeying this was not even close to challenging. I finally made it to the top and I can’t say the view improved dramatically but it made me feel like great to see the yellow lights spreading under my feet in all directions. My friends called me down too quickly and I felt even more terror on the descent. Once at the bottom, I felt utterly drained, my brain paralyzed but proud to have accomplished one of my cherished NOLA goals on my last night.
After a day of recuperation, I left New Orleans to a beautiful sunset as Anh drove me to Hammond. I won’t go into the details of our goodbyes but it was bittersweet. I’ll always remember her as a wonderful girl and the perfect guide to New Orleans but I’m not that sad about leaving. Life is long and I’d be surprised if I don’t see her again.
Lex’s Book Corner or: I Don’t Care if You Read It, It’s a Nice Memory For Me
Sartre’s The Age of Reason:
Matheiu, a professor of philospohy in Paris, obsesses over freedom, rejecting his bourgeois roots although he lives like an intellectual:
That’s how they view me: the man who aspires to be free. He eats, he drinks, like everybody else, he is a government official, not interested in politics, he reads L’Euvre and Le Populaire, he is worried about money. Only he wans to be free, just as other people want a collection of stamps. Freedom, that is his secret garden, a little scheme with himself as sole accomplice. An idle, unresponsive fellow, rahter chimerical, but ultimately quite sensible, who has dexterously constructed an undistinguished but solid happiness upon a basis of inertia and justifies himself from time to time on the highest moral grounds. Is that what I am?”
And his sad realization near the end:
“I have led a toothless life,” he thought. “A toothless life. I have never bitten into anything. I was waiting. I was reserving myself for later on – and I have just noticed that my teeth have gone. What’s to be done?”
This book fucked me up a little with his manical obsession for the details of human relations. Every line of dialogue took a paragraph to explain every look, gesture and thought that went behind it, a web of detail so dense as to be suffocating. I found myself falling into the same habit, lost in morose contemplation, overwhelmed with information. I found myself out dancing with two girls at an 80’s night but not being able to enjoy the moment because of my constant analysis. It’s a dangerous thing to get worked up like this because you can analyze to the point of paralysis, unable to make any decisions. Lousy Sartre. Get out of my head.