February 11, 2010
Now it’s time to talk about how we got to New Orleans and what we’re doing here anyway.
And, the timing is not inappropriate as the temperature here is 36 degrees and there is the dreaded frozen mix falling from the skies.
We left home on Saturday morning, January 30, in our sturdy Catskillian Subaru that we call Sophie. Our two cats, Hazel and Flo were hunkered down in the back of the car, ready for three days of suffering. The idea was to live for a few weeks in a contrasting environment, warmer, more urban, more soulful and emotional. As we drove south along Route 81 and the snow got thicker, we knew we were getting into a little bit of a different kind of an adventure from the one we had planned. By the time we got into Virginia, there were eight to ten inches on the ground and cars and trucks were careening all over the place. Jackknifed tractor trailers were causing huge back ups, cars were sliding off the road and turning over in slow motion. Impatient drivers would then steer into the median strip, plowing through mounds of snow in a crazed attempt to get around the stalled traffic in front of them. They they would stall, get stuck, get turned around and add to the general chaos.
D and I, smug in our four wheel drive, snow tired universe marveled at the amateur hour around us. Fortunately for us, all that complacence didn’t cause us to come a cropper.
By the time we got to Roanoke, we had been on the road for 11 hours and there was a foot of snow on the ground. We pulled into our pet-friendly motel where we had to drag ourselves and the cats through huge drifts to get to our room. “Ohhh,” said our host when we asked about a place to eat, “Everything is closed because of the storm. You could try the gas station. They might have something to eat.” In fact, the Waffle House was the only place in town that was open and the staff was kind of stunned. “Here comes another one,” a bleary eyed waitress said to a colleague as we took our seats. Finally, replete with BLTS and home-fries, we made our way back to the comfort of the snowbound Howard Johnson’s. All was well.
When we got to the Alabama border the next day, the snow was but a distant memory of the Northern landscape.
We pulled up in front of our pink Creole cottage abode in New Orleans around five o’clock on the third day. Our landlady was there and our old friend F who lives here and his friend were waiting for us across the street in their black hoodies in the rain. Then the homeless guy who hangs in the neighborhood, whom we got to know from last year, recognized us and called out, “Hey, where you been?” We all hugged and kissed and the three of them helped us empty the car and bring the stuff into the house. It was a real coming home.
We went out that night, Monday, to a restaurant around the corner, and just walking on the brink sidewalk, that’s all hummocky and uneven from the roots of the live oaks, gave me such a sense of happiness in being here. It made me think that if I, such a newby at New Orleans could feel so gooey-eyed about the place, what must it feel like to be someone like the guy who wrote, “Do You Know What It Means To Miss New Orleans?” I guess that’s why we’re here.
*For those who have never been to a Waffle House – Enjoy!