This week I went back to work on a story idea after realizing the element it missed was time travel.
I attribute where I am now to an incident that happened while pondering the things that lay in store for me in this life. Towards the end of the last century I was living my life free and independent of committment or any type of rules that would impede my desires.
I never went out with the same person twice, I rarely knew the names of people I did see more than once, and my family consisted of friends who were not bothered when I disappeared in the middle of a sentence and then showed up again much later at a place and time of my own choosing.
My only rule was to have none, and to avoid people who did.
Early morning walks, in the French Quarter were not for my health, but the route I would take home after a long night prowling streets and laughing at strangers.
One Sunday,, I marched down Decatur Street full of my own satisfaction, smiling at the jealous looks coming from the people who spent all their lives saving their money to visit a place that was my very own playground. As I passed in front of a building that once housed a bar notorious for parties during the full moon, I saw on the small balcony a man sitting, his grey hair long around his ears and faded tattoos crawling across his shirtless chest.
Our eyes locked and I stood in his gaze, familiar to the stare he was giving me. It was like looking into my own eyes.
New Orleans is a mystical place that floats on mud. It's citizens use the endlessly changing bodies of water around it as landmarks for directions. The sun rises over the western bank of the Mississippi, which itself gives a shape to the city like something that is folded over onto itself. It was one of those rare, but not unheard of moments where time did not matter and I knew the man I was sharing it with was none other than myself.
He knew the questions running through my mind, and he flashed me a warm smile, raising his cocktail high in the air. In his eyes there was no bitterness or anger towards me, only the flash of excitement and expectation like a child on Christmas morning.
This was the person who had lived our life to it's boundaries. The one who created his own world and ruled it from a throne at the center of it all. Someone who at the end of his last moment would simply lay down where ever he may find himself and having enjoyed things to it's fullest would pass with a smile, and waking the next morning, would feel no regrets for wasting the previous day away for here was one more to enjoy.
But as I looked into the details of this vision, I couldn't help but notice that his was the only chair on the balcony, and at a banquet where one enjoys an endless supply of life's oysters and cherries, somewhere there is a growing pile of discarded shells and tangle stems left behind.
When my eyes cleared, he had turned his head and no longer saw me, he was looking up and down the street. Here he sat, waiting for the next thing to come around the corner in an endless pursuit of bright and shiny things.
I walked away from that place, and even though I returned several times, I never saw him again, not on the balcony, nor the mirrors I have passed by through all these years. But I still relish the moments I am given and fill them as I see fit.