Sunday, August 20, 2023
Before we left for New Orleans I cleaned. I mean, I CLEANED. I scrubbed tubs and floors, put away every plate and fork, moved the candles and Hello Kitties from here to there if they were off by even a half inch. I wanted to come home to a clean house and actually feel good about it.
I wanted my first thought, upon walking through the door, to be something along the lines of Are we in the right apartment? Followed immediately by Did someone break in and steal all our stuff?
It paid off. For ten seconds when we got home everything looked great. And then we exploded in with suitcases and souvenirs and empty bags of beignets and god know what else. A stack of a week’s mail, whatever packages arrived while we were gone.
We demolished everything in two trips to the car but for that ten glorious seconds it was… glorious.
Anyway the thing I was really planning to say is that by this morning I was ready to go home. We didn’t really play tourist on this trip except for our last day, so it was a pretty low key week. Of course we ate and drank and walked and listened to music and did fun things, too. But we also worked and existed.
Somehow, though, yesterday took everything I had. The heat was one thing. The all day walking was another. And Bourbon Street, even though our hotel was not actually on Bourbon Street but half a block away, is not where I want to be any night, let alone on a weekend.
It was quite torturous. The doors to our bedroom rattled so hard that Ralph tied his lightning cable around the handles to stop them.
It was like one of those old 70s hotels where you put a quarter in the bed and it vibrates, minus the quarter, minus the vibrating bed. Just the absolutely mind bogglingly loud bass and the seismic seizures it causes.
If demons escaping hell make a sound, it is Bourbon Street on a Saturday night.
If we spend next summer in New Orleans it will be nowhere near Bourbon Street, I’m just saying that out loud and getting it clear right now.
So yeah. I was kind of ready to go home today.
Here’s how ready I was to go home: within a half hour I was up, packed, walked down to the café to get pastries, and in the car.
About ten minutes later on the highway, I realized I had not even waited for my pastry. I literally paid and walked out the door, that’s how much in the zone of going home I was.
So basically I donated to the Conti Hotel Pastry Fund. Go me.
There are things about “home” that I was not looking forward to, namely construction and church bells, but after a week listening to gangsta rap pounding through the asphalt, I was ready to give it a pass. For at least five minutes.
I was, however, really looking forward to just being home. Nothing specific. Just the place that is mine, where it feels familiar and normal. The place where the couch is lumpy and I strongly suspect the middle is about to collapse in, but it is my lumpy couch.
The place where all of my Hello Kitties, covered in dust as they are, still watch me with their curious and unsmiling faces and occasionally eat my bags of plantain chips. The place where there are no beignets, but there is my cast iron pan and just enough chorizo left to make a good hash.
You hear a lot that home is where the heart is, but really home is where your stuff is. My heart is somewhere in a jazz club, in a bookstore with mountains of books, on a beach with the seashells and sand. My heart is at a kitchen table drinking wine with my mother and in a cottage in Olema.
But for now, my stuff is here in Franklin, Tennessee, and that is mine, and that is home.
Sadly, there is also no housekeeping to make clean towels magically appear and to throw out the leftover takeout containers sprawled on the counter, but even that is mine. It is nice, even after a week in a fantastic hotel room, to be among things that are mine.
Oh, and since returning home a few hours ago there have been NO CHURCH BELLS. I don’t know why or how long it will last but I am going to appreciate every single hour that I don’t have to hear them twang. This was perhaps the best welcome home gift of all.
Photo: Crossing Lake Pontchartrain. The thin black line is the city horizon in the distance, with the lake below and the sky and clouds above.