18 September 2009

Three Notes

Last night a neighbor sought to explain the "real New Orleans" to me. It's not the first time I've been on the receiving end of such a tutorial since arriving here in 2005. Does it mean anything that the only people who ever try to spell this out for me are always born and raised somewhere else?

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I met Sara Roahen Tuesday night! I walked over to the Alvar branch to return Bill Clinton's book (couldn't get past the first 20 or 30 pages...what a disappointment) and the dear head librarian remembered my effusive praise of Gumbo Tales. "You know your girl is talking tonight on the West Bank," she warbled.

"My girl? Who's that?"

"Gumbo Tales, of course" she said, looking at me like I was the most fickle of readers. She doesn't know yet that I fall in love every time I read good writing.

Guessing (correctly) that my piano student for the afternoon would neither show up nor call (part of the storm of misfortune and rudeness and loss referenced below), I biked down to Canal Street and caught the ferry over, reaching the Hubbell Library only 10 minutes late for the reading. Shamelessly smitten with Sara, I plopped my sweaty self down in the front row.

Hers was not the face or voice I'd imagined while reading the book but I was not disappointed. What a precious young woman! Besides having the opportunity to thank her for writing the book and to tell her that I love her and the book and give her a big hug at the end of the reading, I'm glad I went because

a) I learned that she and her husband moved back to New Orleans last year!
b) Her humor and candor about her creative process was refreshing and inspiring.
c) The view of New Orleans and the Mississippi River was heart-breaking-ly beautiful that night from the West Bank. It's rare I'm down on the River after dark.

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The storm seems to be over for now. "I'm at the mercy of my life," was the description I gave a friend several nights ago. For almost two solid weeks, the barrage of irreparable loss was intense, unpredictable and unrelenting. I understand more clearly now why people jumped out of windows during the Depression. Last week, I couldn't stop thinking about suicide. I decided to "just say no," every time the thought came to mind--for as long as I could.

Finally came a day with not a single turn of misfortune....and then another day when several people thought of me and called or dropped an email. I slept well that night.

So everything is gone. I have nothing left to lose. Feels like I'm starting over from scratch -- except there's no "scratch" left to work from. Feels like the storm has passed over, like the house and barn were destroyed and the fields and livestock decimated but I survived. I'm alive. Where do we go from here?

1 comment:

  1. Hmm. What makes a loss irreparable? It's a question I'm asking myself as I ask you. I can see where the death of a loved one might be, but I'm wondering if there are other losses in life that rise to that level. It seems to me that as long as there's life, the possibility of repair (however imperfect) is ever-present ...

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