Thursday, April 03, 2008

"At first sight, violently."

Do I really need to quote Louis Armstrong? That's way too overplayed...regardless of how often I find myself whistling that tune. So let me quote a lesser known lover of the Crescent City, Andrei Codrescu, writing about New Orleans:

"How did we fall in love? At first sight, violently."

I nearly wept when I read that first statement in Codrescu's book; it could not sum up my feelings more clearly or simply. I remember the first time I went to New Orleans. A duo-birthday trip for Sarah and me. It was a place I'd vaguely wanted to visit, it sounded fun, and I watched Angel Heart over and over more to look at the dingy rain-soaked architecture than to be creeped out by Mickey Rourke. We left the airport by cab and I felt much like a cocker spaniel with its head hanging out the window going "oooh!...a palm tree!....ooh!...a Best Buy...with a palm tree!" Then we exited 10 and turned onto Rampart....and I'd left the country for the next 5 days. I wanted to move immediately. An impulse that was quickly squelched by the fear that such beauty and atmosphere might, possibly, could maybe become commonplace to me...that and the fact that the humidity was doing bloody murder to my hair. This would simply have to be my home away from home, somewhere I could dream about between visits and look forward to returning to again and again. And so it went. What excuses could I find? Did I run out of that perfume they custom make on Royal? A wedding? Did I forget my toothbrush the last time?

And then Katrina reared her ugly head. Wolfgang's brother, Kevin, had transplanted himself down there a few years before hand and W was on the phone with him as the winds were tearing the roof from his apartment building. He survived and returned to the place where many will always love to call home, (...has a phrase ever been so literal?) come Hell or high water. I craved return visits with the same intensity (and frequency) as I crave really salty crispy french fries and when I was about to literally lose my mind near the end of 2007, there was only one place I could think of to run away to. And I did for 4 days of blessed solitude, just walking and walking as much as my recuperating back would allow. I thought that would give me my fix for a while...alas, in the grey wetness of our Ohio winter months, I was daydreaming of moss draped trees, boutiques, cast iron, and non-previously frozen seafood.

And then the phone call: Kevin was getting married.

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