As more people return to NO, the trash is starting to pile up all over again and the smell on N’s block is disgusting. Despite all that there have been other places – like going to Krakow – as well as much needed conversations -that have helped to lighten the load somewhat. Tomorrow N and I will go have dinner and discuss our lives – she’s bored in Ponchatoula and I’m crazy in midcity.
Over in Krakow, meeting new reporters, always a reminder my company draws the slightly offbeat to its bosom and suddenly you find yourself in an intimate conversation with someone you met only moments ago. J’s story touched me and also gave me pause – a reminder, like Katrina of the tenuousness of life – Alistair helped her feel great love but suddenly and sadly was swept away in one slip and fall in the shower, but then Dolan there to sideline her yet again. Or M’s tragic past that she is every day overcoming. And C’s Juliet, who has turned out to be the one he wants to have ‘babies’ with and make music with, or S’s need for the bitchy type – regardless of gender – to offset his complete and utter giving over of himself to love/infatuation/adoration/one night stands.
The flight and arrival was fraught with tiredness and disconnecting and ended up heading straight towards a movement into assessment and clarity. At least it seemed that way, it’s just so hard to tell with so many moving parts grinding against each other. S said I flip around but he misreads cues.
I am re-engaging with work and that is good. Have lots to do before end of year. We’re going on trip during MLK weekend – Jan 14th weekend. A wants me to take S so she can take T and I’m not sure what to do. S said if I take S then he’s going to Vegas – just be on red alert. Maybe I’ll just opt for a spa weekend and forgot all about the entire scenario.
The Can might open on the 15th and that would be great. I’m also joined fully at Salvation – a gym – not my spirit but my energy needs saving. Today BP almost killed me – so out of shape one week away has made me.
Still awaiting W’s guitar to come in. We spent a few hours together and he started out by saying, “Rachel, I want you to know that I want to go to New York with you but I cannot go without either my mom or my dad. My dad may come and then I will go.” I said oh really and said, “I would have thought by now you would have felt comfortable enough with me to spend the night.” He said, “Comfortable here in New Orleans but if we go outside New Orleans I need my dad to come with me.” I understand I told him. Then he said, “But I want to go to New York.” So I said, “Well Auntie Michelle lives in NY, maybe your mom might want to visit Michelle and then you could go with her there and see NY and it would satisfy your one parent with you need.” He just looked and screwed up his face and did not say anything.
We then scooterized through park with him on full tilt and me running full steam after him – almost didn’t need a workout afterwards. Then a stop at the playground and I took scooter and helmet and went to bench to watch. He was distracted by crying little girl and then lost sight of me and I could see him panicking as he looked for me and he came running to the bench and said I didn’t think you would sit here because I don’t ever sit here. And I said it was the only empty bench.
Then we were off to the pond where the butterflies were lovely and graceful and he said his friend kills butterflies and I reeled back in horror and said don’t you ever kill a butterfly – they are objects of beauty. We took our shoes off and put them in the cold water of the fountain. And he decided he needed to frolic and so he did. Almost with an abandon as if someone had let him loose and he was going to get the most out of it he could. I saw a penny on the ground and got out to pick it up and make a wish and he insisted he needed that penny. Then he saw all the pennies in the fountain and decided to claim a replacement for me. So we both made a wish – May New Orleans Rebuild Quickly – he whispered this wish to me and then we said it out loud. Then he allowed me three pennies and three private wishes.
I hope New Orleans rebuilds quickly but we are in the who knows what is going on stage and that is disconcerting. Our neighborhood is piled with even more trash as more people return and either clean out tenants or their own personal belongings all damaged by Katrina. The smell outside is frightening. S opened the door to put out the trash and I almost gagged back in the kitchen. But there’s good news – gas is coming on in the neighborhood. The Can is opening on the 15th. The Times Picayune was delivered to our smelly doorstep this morning. N’s Jasmine bloomed in back. The Mirlton Man came by yesterday calling out – I’ve got Alligator Pears, I’ve got Cabbage, I’ve got Bananas – things are vying for normalcy amongst the smelly curbs and cross painted houses.
We went to Pal’s tonight and K, the bartender, said contractors from out of state have been showing up alongside regulars – they think this is play town she said, asking for discounts on the drinks, healthier pours, inquiring about how she fared in the storm (a standard insert into conversations these days) – she told him to fuck off and that is why I will keep going to Pal’s.
Sadly K has chosen T and has broken it all off with L – L is trying to take the high road – told her to never call him again, basically lose his number, and has recalibrated his thinking on the matter and she is decidedly too young for him. But now he says he has nothing to dream about or occupy his mind against the every day of this haphazzard existence he has found himself in along with the rest of us.
No one wants to be alone. Everyone I know who is alone seems happy but they long or have the urge to merge. Then there are those who are merged and you just ask yourself what motivates them to stay. A long time couple down the street seem comfortable, content but when I asked N she said, are you joking?, they’re miserable. N tells me all the time how mean B is but she desires him still. And doesn’t that make it compelling? How do you know when it is time to leave S asked me, you have been there before? I said this happened then, this happened this time, you don’t know, it’s more knowing that you can’t stay then it is time to leave, because you know that staying might not make either one of you happy. How do you know when to leave? How did I know I needed to come back to NO, how did I know that even despite the fact that Katrina came in and shook up my dream come true (not to mention ruining people’s lives) and has turned this city into a post-war zone and it might take five years to get it back to equilibrium that I still wanted to live here – that’s knowing. You need that kind of knowing. Never run away from, always run to – isn’t that the motto you should live your life under?
Truth is no one can know – no one not here can know what compells you to be here or what it is like. L and I were walking through the park yesterday and a guy came along with a black dog and L said, “that’s not your dog?” and the guy said “No, I stayed you know and the National Guard forced me out and I feared they would shoot my dog.” I looked at him and he said, “You don’t know, you weren’t here.” Then he said, “I knew my dog would be okay, I left him set up, but he wound up in Maryland and had heart worm problems so he is being treated there and needs about six months recovery.” So L said, “Whose dog is that?” The guy said it was his neighbors. And I said, “Love the one you’re with huh?” and he said, “Done it before.”
I’m adrift, S says. Unmoored we all are. I told L this morning when I went to look at the nagahyde rat pack bar he pulled out of a trash pile and carried home – “hurt my back Rachel” – that sitting in his kitchen provided a degree of comfort – of stability – that I didn’t have and looked forward to – sitting in my kitchen – which kitchen would that be? We’re so unmoored. And yet K took the best offer – a house and marriage – what goes on?