By the time you read this, I’ll be gone.
You’ll have to pardon me, but I’ve always wanted to write that. And in a small, but possibly over-dramatic gesture, this was supposed to be posted as I drove away. But, you know, things happen, moving takes up more time and energy than you anticipate, and suddenly it’s almost two weeks later. You’re in a different city, what is supposed to be your home, you can’t get the zip code or city name right on job applications, keep making weird disgusted faces at the local news (it’s gonna stay like that someday), and you don’t tell anyone because you’re hiding until you’re ready. And then you just keep hiding because then you get depressed.
But what follows, seems to be the thing to do these days, write her a letter when you leave, a long, prosey, sad goodbye. It’s because she’s special and deep down, not one of us is 100% positive we’re doing the right thing when, if, we leave. It’s a little like leaving home (home-home, not adopted home) for the first time. You know it needs to be done, but there’s still that breaking, no, with her it’s that stretching of the cord that binds you, testing its limits. New Orleans will always feel like absolute home to me, but it’s time to face the truth. It’s not mud and swamp water that courses through my veins, but sod and gently rolling hills (at least the politics haven’t changed, guffaw). I’m a girl of the plains, not born of bayou pirogues but casting off in land-locked lakes. True, my homeland doesn’t hold as much magic as South Louisiana does (for me), but maybe it’s time I make my own, as soon as this Black Cloud of Leaving passes. Time to (eventually) find out if living off the land, the land of my birth, is hereditary. Time to admit I need help, as hard as that might be. I have a plan, a ten year plan, if I don’t get distracted and my body allows it. (This morning, it’s running some plays I can’t quite defeat. And thanks for the football love, New Orleans. I’mma Who Dat ’til I die.)
I will miss her. God I will miss her. Eight months before departing and I felt like crying when I thought of leaving, a few days before and it was unreal. It didn’t hit me until I stood in an empty apartment, about to leave. Broke down, had to sit in the moving truck until I was sure I wouldn’t run us off the road. Driving away, a clear image of my soul, my spirit, my whateveryouwannacallit, clawing at 1-10 West, at 1-55 North, trying to get back. Past the lake, resigned. (Whatta you gonna do, spirit, swim back?)
So, I will miss her broken streets, her moss-laden oaks, her young earth coating of seashells and river silt, her egrets and pelicans, and wish I could wrap up City Park and take it with me.
I will miss her High Cloud Season, Low Cloud Season. Every Cloud Season. Kansas may have big skies, but nowhere I have ever been can hold a candle to Gulf Coast clouds. Nowhere. Shut your damn fool mouth.
Fluffy towers that dwarf the sky itself. If you’re not a member of the Cloud Appreciation Society of NOLA, I highly recommend it.
I will miss Swan River. There is no other space like it. Yoga (and so much more) in an old library, with the beautiful mural proudly displayed, and amazing, welcoming people all around. How perfect is that space.
I will miss these girls. So much. I can’t even say anymore because I will start crying on this keyboard. And anyway, ladies, it’s not goodbye, just see ya later. There will be others I will miss, and I hope you know that, and I’m sorry I didn’t get to say a proper goodbye. Know that I was, and will be thinking of you, but these two ladies, these are mah girls.
So, goodbye Nigerian cab corner (Bienville & Royal). Goodbye Poo(h) Corner (Carrollton & Iberville). Goodbye Flagstaff Walk (Jeff Davis walkway between Toulouse & Bienville). Goodbye to nearly constant music in the streets, any street. A lone trumpet, from somewhere nearby, a lone sousaphone player, marching up down broken sunset seashell & silted concrete. Goodbye N. Pierce, where I began my tenure, met lifelong friends, and then came back full circle to depart, but never really leave.
and p.s. thanks for bestowing me this weird cat. maybe I’ll see ya for Carnival next year.
—————————— Which brings us to today….
My brain can’t wrap my heart around it.
Suddenly, gone. Suddenly, quiet (my god it’s quiet). No neighbors on their porches, no streetcars, no brass bands practicing in the street. It does hurt. I’ve never missed a city like you miss a person. The first full day in my new apartment, listening to ‘OZ and I couldn’t stop crying, and laughing. I haven’t been able to listen to it since. What have I done? What I needed to do, but painful all the same. Like I told the good, good friend (thank you, Kim!!!) that came down to help me leave, “it’s like ripping a Band-Aid off, OF YOUR HEART”. Always one for the false joke, the hysterical histrionics. It’s going to take some time, happened so fast. And there’s a large chunk of my heart that will forever and ever be covered in Spanish moss and iron lace. There’s so much more I wanted to say, but it’s so much that I can’t quite wrap my arms around it. Maybe it will come in time, maybe this is fine the way it is.
(Two pairs of socks, three blankets, and I cannot get warm. The cat is none too pleased.)
So, if you’ve made it this far, and you’re in the NE Kansas neck of the woods, come to our small pop-up-ish holiday art sale this Saturday and Sunday (Nov 13 and 14) at 1146 Connecticut (in the renovated church) in Lawrence, KS. There will be hot cider and pumpkin bread and awt.
[all images copyright Jill Ensley, thank you very much. and if you want to see the photographic progression, check here. I’m hoping to update it soon.]