“I don’t know what map I misread,
its roads now slipped into dust,
what cul-de-sacs and one-way streets
could have brought me to this,
my life driven as if through fog into a river.” ~ Judy Jordan, from “Fragments in February”
Tuesday afternoon. Rainy and cool, 50 degrees.
I think that my body is trying mightily hard to succumb to my annual fall cold, but I really don’t have time for that. This time last year I had a houseful of company, and I was heading for yet another case of pneumonia, but this year I made sure that I got a pneumonia vaccine along with my flu shot, so maybe . . . fingers crossed.
So, we’re back from our epic New Orleans trip, and I don’t even know where to begin, so how about if I just ramble a bit and see where it takes us? You good with that?
So we finally made it past the boundaries of Hampton Roads last Monday around 8:30 a.m. (or so) after getting turned around almost immediately, this after a planned departure time of 6 a.m. (yes, I know, although we did pull out of the driveway before 7). We both thought that we knew where we were going, but apparently, not so much. Picked up the rental the evening before, and even that turned out to be a mess: We were supposed to get an Altima, but the guy at the counter said that the Altima was in bad shape, so he talked Corey into a Mustang convertible.
Okay, so at one point in my life the idea of traveling in a Mustang convertible would have been awesome, but the very thought of traveling for 16 hours in such a low-slung car made me uncomfortable, so another trade, and for only $10 more a day . . . ended up with a Mazda CX5 (I believe), which was pretty comfortable and great on gas; however, the upgrade pretty much negated all of the bargain shopping I had done online, along with the discount that I had found on one site. Oh well . . .
“The silence of landscape conceals vast presence. Place is not simply location. A place is a profound individuality. Its surface texture of grass and stone is blessed by rain, wind, and light. With complete attention, landscape celebrates the liturgy of the seasons, giving itself unreservedly to the passion of the goddess. The shape of a landscape is an ancient and silent form of consciousness.” ~ John O’Donohue, from “The Celtic Underworld as Resonance”
The drive wasn’t too bad as far as road conditions and weather, nothing like the great blizzard we drove through a few years ago, and we arrived in New Orleans around midnight (I think, it was kind of a blur). The good news is that our hotel was right in the French Quarter (Place d’Armes, definitely worthy of repeat visits), and they had upgraded us to a suite at no extra charge. We had a lovely balcony, and the ambiance was so nice, very old New Orleans. Parking, however, cost us $30 a night, so we made mental notes to try to find street parking for the second night, which we were actually able to do. Woo Hoo.
So we got up early on Tuesday after only about six hours sleep and headed out to the first company that Corey wanted to visit. The website had stated that applications would be taken at both locations, but the New Orleans office directed us to their other headquarters, which was in Galliano. Our game plan had been to go to the NOL office first and then to Cut Off and then to Covington. That plan was changed immediately and we had to regroup and head to Galliano. Unfortunately, the first company seemed completely disinterested in him, which was a set back as this was his first choice.
Fortunately the second company on our list was just down the road from Galliano. This company was very interested in Corey, but the downside was that they weren’t hiring until February. The good news is that they are building a bunch of new boats/ships and have plans to hire 300 people in early 2014, so it looks very promising; however, by the time Corey finished speaking with the recruiter it was 3 p.m., and there was no way that we’d make it to Covington in time to speak with anyone before COB.
This meant a bit of a delay as we had planned to leave late morning Wednesday and possibly to stay somewhere on the route home. We had no idea how much of a delay it would turn out to be . . .
“On the door it says what to do to survive
But we were not born to survive
Only to live” ~ W. S. Merwin, from “The River of Bees”
Tuesday evening, back in New Orleans, we roamed around the French Quarter, spent some money, and had a wonderful dinner at a restaurant that wasn’t too pricey. Best crab cakes I’ve ever had—hands down. We had originally brought going out clothes with us, but neither of us had the energy to change, get gussied up, as it were. Fortunately, it doesn’t seem to matter what you wear (we saw one guy in a Spiderman outfit, and another one in some kind of monster get-up with spikes—pictures to come).
So we acted like tourists, drank libations as we meandered along the streets, bought souvenirs and a few Christmas presents, then headed back to our very comfortable room and slept the sleep of the very tired. On Wednesday morning we had breakfast at the famous outdoor Cafe du Monde (only two blocks from our hotel), home of the famous delectable beignets. I inhaled my portion and delighted in my very large cafe au lait. Then back to the hotel to check out and get back on the road to Covington and company number 3.
Now while Corey was doing all of these interviews, I was hanging out in the car, pirating wi fi and trying to do something to amuse myself, mostly tumblr and some lazy magazine browsing. Company number 3 turned out to be super interested in Corey and said they’d be in touch. We plotted our route home, found a nearby Sam’s Club, gassed up, and as we were pulling out of the parking lot, Corey got a call from #3 asking if he could come in and fill out paper work. Second big Woo Hoo.
Great news, but . . . he needed to do a drug test and physical, as well as an agility test, and none of that could be done until . . . wait for it . . . Thursday . . .
“Change comes like a little wind that ruffles the curtains at dawn, and it comes like the stealthy perfume of wildflowers hidden in the grass.” ~ John Steinbeck, from Sweet Thursday
So there really wasn’t a choice, was there? I called the rental company, added another day, and we regrouped, again. Fortunately #3 paid for our hotel and breakfast for Wednesday night/Thursday morning. Small woo hoo only because it was a regular hotel and not the très cool accommodations from which we had just decamped, but hey, free . . .
Thursday morning on to clinic for physical. Three hours later (I really don’t know what they do that takes three hours, but Corey said it was a whole lot of waiting). Slight hiccup on his physical (nothing major), and then around the block to the physical agility place.
Finally at 3 p.m., we were done. Decided to go ahead and eat dinner then hit the road so that we could try to make up some time (hooray for 70 mph speed limits and radar dectectors). Found a little locals restaurant and finally had our genuine Po Boys, shrimp and oyster, respectively. Full stomachs, weary bodies and minds, we hit the road around 4:30.
Everything had happened so fast, and we had had so very little time between everything that I think we were both kind of shell-shocked by this point.
“I’m forging my note to the future, recording
all I know of this moment before
the moment completes itself” ~ Chris Forhan, from “The Taste of Wild Cherry”
Corey drove for a while. I took over in the middle of the night. We stopped in a rest stop somewhere and napped for an hour like about 20 other weary travelers and many, many truck drivers (did you know that Virginia doesn’t let you do this? Of course not.). Anyway, we pulled into our driveway a little after 10 a.m.
We’re both still processing everything. Corey has to go back in December for training, and we’re not sure how many weeks that will be, and there is a possibility that he’ll go straight from training onto a ship. So much to digest.
Brett and the dogs were very glad to have us home; the dogs had apparently pined away for us and had made Brett’s life miserable. Corey immediately fell into bed, but I was too wired by then, so I unpacked and cleaned, hoping to exhaust myself, but that never really happened. The weekend was a total blur, and I feel that I am so far behind that I may never catch up.
“You must make decisions knowing those decisions make you.” ~ Rakishi, from “The son without his father”
Anyway, here is where we are: Corey has a job, but is still in denial, kind of that other shoe dropping thing, you know? He can’t help it as he’s been bitten in the butt more than once by supposed job offers. I keep telling him that this company is different—well established, big, good reputation, not like some of the companies he’s had to endure in the past. He won’t be on tugs, but off-shore supply vessels (OSV’s). He’s anxious at the idea of starting over, but the good news is that this recruiting guy really seemed to like him and was already mentioning Corey upgrading his qualifications.
So it’s Thanksgiving week. My body aches all over, and I haven’t quite recovered from the five days of whirlwind activity. The house is trashed. I am totally unprepared for Thursday, and truthfully, it’s beginning to hit me that Corey may not be here for Christmas. So much is still up in the air, and the trip ended up costing us a small fortune, but it was so worth it. We had a really nice time together, got to experience another new place with each other, had some great food (as my stomach can attest), and it looks like we’re about to embark on a new path.
Hard not to be anxious, but trying to be calm. Anyway, that’s the quick and dirty version. Lots of little details in between that I may tackle later before they slip through the sieve that is my brain. Until then . . .
Music by London Grammar, “Nightcall”
No crying, calling out, complaining…
No crying, calling out, complaining,
This all will pass, like the green of gold,
Like the white smoke of apple blooms,
And I won’t be as young as I used to.
Already, your blood isn’t as quick as it was,
I tell my heart—and it’s getting colder.
White birch roots stitch the ruddy fields
And you’ve lost the urge to wander.
Lips and eyes, emotions:
Where are your fire and anger,
Where your floods?
All were fresh, now are errant, scattered.
My wants are sparer now, leaner,
Or maybe they were just a dream
—Like the moment morning flashes green—
And I charged past on my sorrel steed.
We’re all, all of us in this world soon to spoil.
Copper leaves are tumbling coyly from the maples . . .
World-weary drifter, be forever grateful
To have faded fast, in early petalfall.
~ Sergei Esenin, trans. James Stotts
6 thoughts on ““Our memory fragments don’t have any coherence until they’re imagined in words. Time is a property of language, of syntax, and tense.” ~ Siri Hustvedt, from The Sorrows of an American”
Have a muffaleta sandwich on your next visit!
That’s on my list. Corey got to try alligator (not bad, really), and wanted to try turtle soup, which I am against. I also had to pass on a bread pudding because I was simply too full. So much to see, so much to eat . . .
I never made it to downtown NOLA… For that, I am sorry.
I’m glad you are back home, safe and sound. I hope the new job will be something Corey enjoys… I love being able to see the trip through your eyes…
I have enjoyed everything on F&L…
Lita, I hope that you will have a good Thanksgiving, that there will be some relaxing time… I’m thankful that you are in my world…
Best wishes to you and your family for the holidays. I hope you have a good one.
Awesome post and amazing illustrations. I live in Louisiana and you’re right, there’s no better food than a crab cake from “The Big Easy”. xo, Marion
P.S. – Here’s my favorite quote from “Jitterbug Perfume” by the master, Tom Robbins, about New Orleans: “The minute you land in New Orleans, something wet and dark leaps on you and starts humping you like a swamp dog in heat, and the only way to get that aspect of New Orleans off you is to eat it off. That means beignets and crayfish bisque and jambalaya, it means shrimp remoulade, pecan pie and red beans with rice, it means elegant pompano au papillote, funky file z’herbes, and raw oysters by the dozen, it means grillades for breakfast, a po’ boy with chowchow at bedtime, and tubs of gumbo in between. It is not unusual for a visitor to the city to gain fifteen pounds in a week—yet the alternative is a whole lot worse. If you don’t eat night and day, if you don’t constantly funnel the indigenous flavors into your bloodstream, then the mystery beast will go right on humping you, and you will feel its sordid presence rubbing against you long after you have left town.” ~Tom Robbins, “Jitterbug Perfume”, page 240
Thanks for dropping by and commenting.
I love that Robbins quote, and I had it squarely in the back of my mind as I continued to eat my way through the days. I’m hoping to go back and, time permitting, visit all of the cemeteries.