Once upon a time I lived in a city near some mountains. There was a gas station deli around the corner from my house where I would go for roast beef sandwiches. I'd always ask if there was any gravy that could be poured on top of it causing the woman behind the counter to stop what she was doing and say to me:
"Why would you want to do that? It will just drip down your arm while you're eating it!"
The other night I did something miraculous. I turned on a football game of my own volition and watched the Saints win a place in the SuperBowl. I have never been one for following sports other than Sky Surfing, Bull Riding or Ice Skating. I did not enjoy playing them as a child, and the only time I ever caught a fly ball I burst into tears because everyone started yelling at me and I didn't understand what they were saying.
As far as my association with football, well i've attended a few games through the years, and actually even owned a pigskin when I was younger. It was given to me at Christmas by one of my brothers and I clearly remember that moment after the unwrapping when I studied it from several angles and with a bit of confusion. After being urged to take the ball out of the box, I handed the gift back to him and replied:
"I think it's probably best if you just take it back since I won't ever play with it and I would feel bad if you wasted your money like that."
The repercussions of my unhinged jaw still reverberate to this day.
Later, I did have a brief fascination with the hoops, but I'm sure you'll agree that when we are trying to sell ourselves to someone we have grown interested in, most of us develop all sorts of new habits and hobbies.
I did not find my interest in the Saint's progress until the last 14 minutes that I watched. I don't know if that's wrong but how can you not appreciate victory in the face of challenge?
The Sunday morning before Katrina washed away my world, I found myself at the state line overunning the small rest stop with several hundred people who were overly courteous, mindful of their movements and their voices as the sun peeked over the horizon. I didn't cry the morning I woke up, knowing that the things I perceived as treasured were gone. It hardened me to move forward, and face what lay ahead. It wasn't until that first Mardi Gras, watching the evening news, when the television anchor signed off in Jackson Square and allowed the viewers to listen to the sounds of the day that I let myself weep.
If you've ever been in the city on that magic day, you know the sound I heard. It's that blanket of voices, music and laughter that rises into the air, bouncing off of the buildings to float above you like a heavenly choir. A cacophony to some, but if you know how to listen, it's a symphony of life you will hear nowhere else.
I reject the idea that I am less for not having returned to rebuild my home. None but ourselves can measure the sacrifices we made during our time, loving her, to give that city a flavor that so many wish to enjoy.
Lucky me, to have been so much, large and small, proud and twisted, successful and other things that were merely a fantasy of my own whims while walking those cracked and uneven streets. But I knew I had to prove myself in that other place, the regular world, and it was time for me to move on.
Out here I have found other's like me, cast ashore on beaches unfamiliar, pursuing dreams that we only talked about when we were in the bosom of that great lady, that city that needs no sleep, that has no care in the world and will tell you how special you are even as the next character comes around the corner.
I plan on attending a Superbowl Party this year. And I'll probably only watch the last few minutes of the game. The last time I payed attention to one, was in New Orleans, right after 9/11 and it was mostly due to the armed soldiers standing on every corner, and the jet fighters flying overhead every few minutes.
I'll be in the company of others, like me, who enjoy eating creatures in a shell, talking about supper during breakfast, randomly breaking into a dance when the only music playing is in my head, and Yes, hopefully, there will be gravy dripping down my arms.