Why New Orleans?

February 2, 2018

After the dreadful length of nothing-ness highway offered by the state of Texas, I think anything would have lifted my spirits. However, this wasn’t just anything, or any place. I stopped off at a small gas station just inside of Louisiana (the state sign of which brought great relief) and I got out. The air was moist and refreshing on my skin, the woman gas station attendant was kind and talkative, and weirdly, I felt like I had been there before.

When people talk about falling in love at first sight, I have doubts; but this place: it was a magical in a dirty and real way. Of course, I was on a road trip in part due to a closing window on my current rental in California and was open to another state to call home, but this place really drew me in, like a comfy water-proof boot.

If the feeling that morning didn’t tip the scale, the first night I spent in New Orleans did. I had abstained from alcohol most of my time in Northern California; so at first I soberly walked through the touristy regions I’d always read about, but was affected regardless of being dry. There was a light rain at times but not enough to spoil anything. I had my tarot cards read on a folding table adorned with scarves and decks and candles by a lovely woman older than myself with a dollar bill pined to her lapel for her birthday. She had those eyes that saw through things and she knew I did too. I had a drink. I heard soothing songs from female singers about my own experience. I danced alone but with their stories. My face was warm and my head a little dewy from the sweat the dancing had earned. This is where I belong right now, this is my next home.

A few weeks later it is my home and I’m happy with my decision. Through the last few years I found it isn’t the place that fills us with gratitude but our attitudes and outlook on the world around us. I honor my exploratory nature and trust in others enough to let myself be who I am now, without the defensive walls I laboriously built in the past, thinking it was for good reason.

My heart seeks a home, but home is inside of me. I want a place for my soul to rest and she will intermittently. I found a group and the second night settled I ventured out with them; we walked silently down a wooden path above the swamp into the setting sun, like  “light at the end of the tunnel”. The sun set without consideration for my place in the tunnel or on the path, and in that thought there is peace. In the quiet night was happiness. My face muscles hurt from the gobberish grin I wore at the simplicity and joy of my experience. The moon then rises and in its fullness lit the way back from the opposite side of the sky. What wonders we find when we tolerate some darkness.

Kristie M. Hendricks