I have always held a deep appreciation for the cities in which I have lived. I never took the grandeur of Washington D.C. or London for granted for a moment when I called these places home. The Sesame Street vibe of Philly never failed to make a happy impression on me for those years I spent there. Even San Francisco, back in the years when It Didn't Suck, was perpetually charming with the row-house Victorians, the dramatic Twin Peaks, the sparkling bay and its twin bridges. I never lose sight of my hometown's beauty. It has been my habit to wake up in whatever city I am in and always be consciously grateful that I was there.
This morning, for example: I woke up with the "morning" (okay noon, to you, but I'm nocturnal) light slanting through the shutters slicing with sunlight the engraving of Mozart over my bed. The cat was asleep on my head, and while that was nice, I could think of others who should have had the honour of those … er … "lodgings."
I laid in bed idly petting the pussy listening to the clipclop of horses pulling buggies by my window and the melancholy calls of ships on the Mississippi River about a quarter mile away. I felt like I was waking up in a scenario written by Tennessee Twain or someone like that.
I yawned and stretched, crossed the room and swept aside the twelve foot swatch of green velvet curtains that cover the window leading to the balcony. New Orleans is gorgeous today. Bright, clear December day. Chillish, but not cold. Blindingly bright. Windy. The wind had knocked over a chair on the balcony that had been laden with last year's Mardi Gras beads. The balcony is strewn with zillions of sparkles, and the sun is dancing on them like a kid denied his Ritalin.
It is mornings like this when I can twirl on the balcony and sing to the skies, "I'm not hungover!"
"Personally, I resonate with those who acknowledge and accept all of New Orleans; people like marquis who neither view the city through rose-colored glasses, nor its reflection in cracked mirrors." — neshentiSince the day I moved here, lifetimes ago it seems, I have been consistently occupied with trying to put a finger on this town. It's a work in progress, and I don't think I'll ever finish.
There is, simply put, no city in this country, or any other country for that matter, that even vaguely resembles New Orleans in look and atmosphere and attitude and actuality.
I'm not selling anything here. Please don't get me wrong. New Orleans is no utopia. It is not for everyone.
But it is the place I can finally, after years of searching, call home — a concept erstwhile as elusive and sought after as love itself. If I could truly "love" a city, this would be it.
I'm using "love" in the long-haul, LTR sense of the word. It's a commitment, warts n' all. I don't (and I believe you will agree with me, Neshenti?) glorify it or try to shape it so it fits into my life perfectly. I treat it as a lover, and appreciate the good things, and work through the bad things, and assimilate myself, to a degree, to make things work out between us.
Like having a lover, it can be hell. But like having a lover, once you've lost that love, nothing is ever as vivid or "complete" again.
This was a hard lesson to learn. First time I lived here, I failed to "get it," and was behooved to move away for a couple of years where reflection and self-fortifying gave me the experience and knowledge and maturity I lacked on the first go-around.
It is a city of extremes, and I do love me some extremes. (The only thing I fear is boredom. Not moments of boredom, but loooong stretches of it.)
There is definitely a trade-off to living in this weird, self-made, magical, cursèd place. But I have agreed to the price, and bought into it. Example: New Orleans can kill you, plain and simple. If you lose control of yourself, the undertow will suck you down and it is very, very difficult to rise to the surface for air. I've seen it happen a hundred times. I can name people who are drowning right now, and there's nothing to do to save them.
This can get ugly, but I accept it. I would rather be surrounded by people on fast-swirling downward spirals that may end up in death, or worse, than surrounded by slow, lugubrious cess pools of people going about their doom in slow motion. I'm speaking now of my years spent as a "Market Rat," years spent in the corporate treadmill on San Francisco's Market Street, or pick your main financial district thoroghfare of any city. It was numbing me to death. Luckily, I was self-aware enough to perceive this. And luckily, I have the chutzpah to change my situation when it becomes distasteful to me. I realize I'm the lucky one, though. Many, many people seem incapable or ill-disposed to such drastic change.
In the former case — the whirlpool — one goes out, as Sid Vicious said, "in a blaze of glory." Know that I have no plans to "go out" any time soon. I think I understand this place and its rules, and I can play by them and succeed while doing so. In the latter example, I confess I don't have it in me to constantly create new diversions and new sources of energy and aqua vitæ all on my ownsome. I need a little help from outside. New Orleans is redolent with that essential spunk, but, as with spunk, if you get it in your eye, it stings like a bitch.
I respect the honesty of this city. I have often thought of lobbying the airport administration to hand each arriving passenger a flyer that says, "Welcome to New Orleans; You Will Be Chewed Up And Spat Out," along with a cocktail. I, and many others, have figured out how not to be spat back out.
"It's better to feel something than nothing. Even if it's teeth." — ImpromptuI despise hypocrisy. It makes me violently angry, and I am not one generally prone to violence. I would rather be slapped in the face than patronized or placated.
There is corruption throughout all aspects of New Orleans, but it is overt, and all manner of people are vivdly aware and can speak of it as just another feature, as opposed to your more hypocritical cities who constantly, futually attempt to smooth everyone's feathers with, "No, no, everything is working just according to plan!" When a scandal erupts in, say, Washington — when a high-level official, say, gets a blowjob, it is the talk of the town. If the story broke that the mayor stuck his dick in an intern's mouth, the consensus amongst New Orleanians would be, "Well that must have been nice for him. Let's do another shot. Then maybe go get a blowjob."
I obviously have more to say on the subject, but my work week begins in a few hours and I must have a little nap. I only wish to point out that the fact that my work week begins Friday night, and is over by Monday morning, I can't think of another place on earth where this could a) happen or b) suffice my modest fiscal needs.
Ya hurd muh?
You can tell a lot about a person from the intial words of their paragraphs. Sometimes — often even — you can tell the person's story just from the first words. If not the details, then at least what headspace they're occupying.
Here are some truncated entries from my little LJ Friends' Page thingypooh, for example: