There are certain places where we know we belong. The symbiosis of place, image, interaction, and culture create an environment where we feel natural and truly an integral part. New Orleans is that place for me—it is truly who I am. During the last 10 days, I have once again been reassured that this is the place I must ultimately live in for my final days. At least the cognizant days—with or without liquor. I honestly feel like I have more friends here than I do in Killeen where I have lived for almost 5 years. I do not really know nor do I really interact with my neighbors. Attempts are made, but no long-standing relationships emerge. I can count on one hand my true friendships in Killeen. Here, I have had the opportunity to reconnect with many friends over the nearly two week period. The reality of life makes it difficult for Susan and I to move back to New Orleans, but there is a strong piece of me right now that longs to buy one of these old shops or bars in the Bywater and reopen it. We could take the upstairs part and live in it. I could live out my final days “holding court” behind my bar—lecturing on sociology if anyone would listen. It is a fantasy thought, but fantasies do come true every once in a while in New Orleans.
This Monday was similar to last Monday—a pleasant and slow day. I spent the morning grading papers and attending to administrative work, and Cece spent a few hours at her internship. In the late afternoon, I helped hustle some of my friends for her to interview. The week is filling up with folks to speak with, and we begin on Tuesday with my dear friend Kaya, a teacher at McDonough 15 in the French Quarter. I believe she teaches music there, but she may have her own 2nd Grade class as well. She is also a local vocalist and percussionist. Kaya evacuated with us during Katrina, and I ended up driving her all the way to Houston so she could catch a plane back to her home in Arizona. She has an interesting story to tell, I am sure.
My colleague Allen is in town with his son Jacob, and I go down to the Quarter to give them a quick walking tour. Jacob has been convinced by Allen that I am an expert on the Quarter. I only really know the bars, though (right). Allen and Jacob are only in town for the night—they leave to go back to Killeen on Tuesday. New Orleans is a beautiful city, but a one day visit does not do it justice. I can handle a quick one-day visit because I know what to do and who to see on a quick visit. I’m not sure what a tourist can see if they only have 24 hours to do New Orleans in.
Earlier in the day, Cece convinced me that we should go see a movie. Her choice is the new Leonardo di Caprio movie “Inception.” Since it’s playing at the Prytania Theater, I agree. She hasn’t seen a movie there since before the storm. Honestly, I think that’s the last time I saw one there too. The Prytania Theater is one of the last truly neighborhood theaters in the country. A neighborhood moviehouse—wow, what a novel concept! Tonight’s show draws a pretty large crowd, and Cece has invited “Bike Guy” to come along. He’s now staying with a friend in St. Roch. He is truly living a frontier lifestyle now.
The movie is very good and very captivating. Some might call it a “sci-fi” thriller, though the only “sci-fi” element to the movie is the way people are invoked into a dream state. It is pure thriller, with multiple layers of activity taking place. This is the second movie I’ve seen where Di Caprio plays someone who is out of touch with reality—“Shutter Island” was an excellent movie, though somewhat predictable. I’m impressed with his new work.
Though there is lots to do that is “free” on Monday, Cece and I turn in early tonight. We drive home through the Quarter, and I see a number of friends out for walks. I say hello to Jacques Morial and will give him a call later on Tuesday. I also see my friend John, who is out walking his two very big Rotweiler’s. I am glad we are turning in early, because as we settle in, the heaven’s open up again with a downpour.
This has been a wonderful visit for me, not just to be back in New Orleans, but also to spend so much quality time with my daughter. Before my divorce, I had so many “plans” for my interactions with her. So much of that was lost in the distance (both physical and mental) that became part of our relationship. I know she remembers very little of how I would read to her at night, or how I would swing her in my arms as if I were a big tree and toss her back down onto her bed after the reading. I was not there for her on a daily basis when I should have been. Now that she is a young woman, I am honored to hear her open up with her dreams, aspirations, and intellectual ideas. She is very similar to me in many ways, including holding one’s emotions close to the heart. But I can feel that we are getting so much closer from this time together, and this is probably the best thing that has come from this trip for me.
Today intends to be another slow day. I have begun to upload my pictures to my flickr site, and I hope to get out into the streets a bit today to take more pictures, especially in a neighborhood I have very few pictures of—the Bywater. I am nearly finished with grading papers. My administrative tasks can be taken care of daily. I might just call a realtor up today about a certain bar for sale in the Bywater. You never know what new opportunities might be just around the corner.
Yeah you right!!!