Sunday, May 15, 2011

New Orleans Aria

Sunshine, breeze, music, shouted voices from below, the clatter of horse-drawn wagons, church bells in the morning. This is my experience sitting in my third-story apartment on Burgundy Street in New Orleans, with the breeze wafting in through the sheer curtains, and the mockingbirds and sparrows creating the soundtrack to the day. In the mornings, meditation, yoga, coffee, toasted bagel and fruit, writing. In the afternoons, wandering through the narrow, pungent streets, perhaps doing errands, finding an internet cafĂ© to check e-mail and research the city,  or heading out to some site or another (today I think it will be the art museum at City Park, and then a food festival at Liuzza’s restaurant, then, later, free swing dance lessons, perhaps with a new friend).

In the early evening, as the shadows lengthen, a drink in a bar, perhaps some shopping, and then sitting by the great muddy river, higher now that the northern floodwaters are reaching the sea, people-watching or just meditating. Then dinner at home, watching the sunlight redden the rooftops of the Quarter, finally fading to darkness. Then it’s out to hear the night sounds: music, loud laughter, the clack-clack of the shoes of well-dressed ladies, similar to the clippity-clop of horse’s hooves pulling the tourist wagons. Then to sleep in my room under the eaves with its one small, dusty window looking out over an old loquat tree, lights from the street below dappling the ceiling.

It’s been an intense time, actually. As Jon Kabat-Zinn likes to say, “wherever you go, there you are.” An old relationship keeps rekindling and then dying out spectacularly, like a fire that refuses to be put out. I sit with my own mistakes and patterns, and see his, as well. I grow sad that we can’t get out of the cycle one way or another, or if we can, seemingly it will only be by cutting off all communication. I flirt (pardon the pun) with finding a distraction in the form of a young and life-filled man, but then back off at the last minute, afraid of the emotional repercussions. Sometimes it’s just easier to be alone.

I’m enjoying playing house here in this apartment under the eaves. It was filthy when I moved in. I polished the dark hardwood floors, washed all the sheets and towels,  took down the awful New Orleans cheesy wall art, bought flowers,  and moved things around to better suit my tastes. Now it seems classy and modern, clean and light-filled, with just enough funk to feel like home. I never want to leave it, even though it isn’t exactly well-stocked. There’s not a sharp knife in the place, and I had to go out and buy clothes hangers. But it’s coming together and it’s exactly the type of place I was hoping for. The right place to just be, to get out of old habits and patterns, to re-commit to self-care. 

I’m not socializing as much as I’d hoped to, but the energy just isn’t there. I talk to and e-mail friends back home; I will call my new local friend today and arrange to go dancing. This is enough for me for right now. Slow rhythms of the day, no place I need to be, nobody I need to be with. Just me and a city that I love, music in the air and the warm breeze on my skin. Heaven.

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