What happens when you are actually leaving a place is that all of your romantic notions are swallowed whole by boxes, to-do lists, and contradictions in character. Remember how I wrote that leaving should be a celebration? Fat chance. I was wrong on that one. Packing up and leaving a place sucks, no matter the glory of the destination. My lists have not been celebrations and this is no ideal departure. I'm sad, it's so hot you can't even use a metaphor for comparison, and no matter how much shit I have given away, I look at my boxes and say, "How can I still own this much shit?"
I put a pile on the corner for the neighborhood riffraff. Most things we put on the corner (appliances, moldy sheet rock, overworn costumes) are gone within the hour. Today, the crackhead who wears a pink dress and a Muses Mardi Gras bag every day took the boombox out of my hand before it even reached the sidewalk. Someone else dragged away two bags of clothing, and then, get this, someone went through my third bag of clothing and lined up all of my shoes, belts, knicknacks, and give-aways in a nice little organized row on the side of the house like it was their own little garage sale. I wish I had seen this happen.
Amongst the ambivalence of leaving and beginning anew, I did what always helps me in the throes of tension. I took a long walk. For all the ragging on inefficiency I've done here, I must admit to New Orleans' pleasant smallness, charm, and blatant way of making rules for itself. Of note:
1. Running into two friends, whom I hadn't seen since the years of my Magazine Street beer-serving days, who both said, "Hey baaaay!" within the same five blocks of each other.
2. Re-finding the huge van with painted jaguar spots on Constance Street. (When Kate and I saw this piece of art in the Whole Foods parking lot, she said, "Let's guess who it belongs to," and I said, "Her." And it was in fact, the lady with foot-tall pig tail buns, a smorgasbord of plants in hand, and a rolly-thighed child on hip).
3. Two police cars ON DUTY who pulled over towards me and said, "Lookin' goooood...mmmmhhmmmm."
4. A cat hanging from his hind legs, arms reaching towards the ground, taking a cumfy lil afternoon nap. Quincy saw this first, stopped dead in his tracks without blinking, I said "Wierd...," and we kept on our sweaty way.
5. A near-accident between a bicyclist and a truck after which the pedestrian cooly encouraged, "Slow ya roll, playa, slow ya roll."
Between throwing old shelves out the window, musing on grief as a strange metamorphic animal, and feeling these afternoons like more of a cocoon than anything transformed, I've been telling myself his uplifting mantra:
Slow ya roll, playa, just slow ya roll.