Saturday, August 28, 2010

the parting gift of experience

My plans never involved moving to New Orleans a second time.

The first time I set foot on Bourbon Street I was not distracted by the explosion of lights or the flashes of temptation peeking through the doors which were held open by bouncers and barkers proclaiming the many reasons to follow your desires and come inside.

Instead, I was fascinated by the shuttered windows on the top floors of the buildings which housed the dens of vice and music. I wondered what went on behind them and who the people that lived there were. Walking with the crowd I looked at the faces of those who stood on the corners, oddly dressed, dancing around in a way that seperated them from everyone else, their voices louder than the noise of the street, and eyes lit with a rapturous joy of life. These were the mysterious occupants I had been searching for.

From that moment on I wanted nothing more than to be one of those characters and did not stop until I finally lived in the French Quarter. So when it ended in a flurry of FBI raids, fake Salvador Dali prints and the loss of everything I owned, I decided that this might not be the city for me.

I spent the summer homeless, sleeping in shelters, in unlocked cars, and the cold bed of strangers. When I finally returned home I had tested the limits of my ability to survive on my own and swore I would never be without a place to live again.

Barely a year later I was ready to put myself in that position once more when I decided to try my luck in New York City. I lost my job and had my heart broken by a guy who chose a coffee table over being with me. In one short afternoon filled with ill conceived plans of success I decided to buy a bus ticket to the Big Apple and pursue my dreams of being a writer. But first I would spend one last weekend in New Orleans saying goodbye to it all. It was Mardi Gras.

I went, I partied, I never left.

I allowed myself to become the cities lover, and she fulfilled my every fantasy. I never said that I had enough, knowing she would laugh at me for being weak, while making it sound as though we were laughing together. I gave myself completely to New Orleans and in return she wove me into the fabric of her quirky eccentricities.

But she is angry when spurned and as I struggled with the endless pleasures of her embrace I realized I had lost my dreams while satisfying my desires. I began wishing for my life to change, for an opportunity to do something else, to find myself in a place where I could become the person I always talked about being, but never had the time to become.

I spent the Saturday afternoon before evacuating from Katrina cleaning my house and attempting to contact my Meth dealer. When we left our house, it was with only enough clothes for a two day trip to Houston. I didn’t even bother to bring shoes other than the sandals I was wearing. I never scored the drugs.

During the night, as the storm came ashore, I woke up to the sound of Scott weeping. In his heart he knew that everything we owned was in the process of being destroyed. As we held each other in the dark I knew that life had already given me the experience I needed to start again from nothing and I realized an important decision needed to be made.

I chose not to return for a third time. Instead we moved to a place where my weakness for the endless distractions would not keep me from a new set of goals in my life. We moved where I could not have the drugs that were destroying me brought to my front door like a hand delivered pizza. We bought a house, I went back to school and finally started writing again.

But in the back of my mind I remember the boy who chose the coffee table over the passion in his heart.

I stopped questioning whether or not I made the right decision when I realized the experiences that New Orleans gave me were her gift for being such a willing participant in all of her tomfoolery and she wants me to share those stories so that others seek out the charms of the undying Queen of Desire.

But I do get tired when the people I now live amongst look at me funny when I order my sandwich fully dressed.

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