Tour Diary: Lizards And Spiders And Thunderstorms

(July 7, 2012) — “The best-laid schemes o’ mice an ‘men / Gang aft agley,” said Mr. Burns (no, not that one) and he was right.

My plan on this tour was to spend July in New Orleans then head north to spend August in Pennsylvania with my kids. But it turns out my sons are out of town for two weeks in August, so now I’m working on leaving New Orleans this week so I can spend part of July with them, too.

And truth be told, that’s not the full story. As I wrote the other day, I’ve been struggling with how lonely I am on this tour. I really need to spend some time in the company of people who love me, and these days that means being in either New York City or State College, PA. As I mentioned, I’ll be traveling with someone for the second leg of the tour, and I think that will make things much easier.

It’s not just the loneliness, though. This week I really realized for the first time that I am, in fact, homeless.

Robert Frost famously wrote, “Home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in.” And at the moment, I don’t have a place like that. I don’t speak to my parents. The situation is State College is tricky because of my former wife’s family and their intense dislike of me. My sister, with whom I do speak, lives in a small place in Manhattan and can’t house me. And the woman I’ve been dating now lives at home since we lost our apartment in Brooklyn, and her folks don’t like me either. Makes me sound like a monster, doesn’t it? I’m really not a bad person, but you’d hard-pressed to find people related to me by blood or marriage who share that opinion.

So these last few days, when I’ve wanted more than anything to just go where people I love are, it’s been made clear to me that I can’t choose to do that. I keep coming back to Steinbeck’s Travels With Charley, which I’m reading now. He was on the road for an extended period, but he had a home back in New York to which he could return at any time. And, as I mentioned in an earlier post, he had a dog. Companionship and the possibility of return. Those are two huge factors, for me at least, in a successful extended road trip.

Yesterday was another low-key day her in the Crescent City.

I got some very tasty vegetarian pho soup over at the Lost Love Lounge. Wrote another poem there, too. Fact: There is no correct pronunciation of “pho” and you will always say it wrong when you order it.

Then I spent a couple hours reading at Flora’s Cafe, a coffee shop right around the corner from where I’m staying. I had the “Iced Tea Especiale,” a blend of jasmine, earl gray and cranberry juice.

While I was there, a twentysomething woman named Honey came in with a friend. She was wearing a skirt with a fluffy tutu over it, a tanktop and a tiara on her head. She had that raspy voice I associate with drinking and smoking that many people get no matter their age. She was chatting with the barista and with a few of the customers, when suddenly she said this: “There’s no way to avoid causing suffering in the world or in your own life, but with awareness you can lessen it.” Wisdom is everywhere, if you keep your eyes and ears open.

Another New Orleans truism: Every store and bar has a cat. Here’s the cat from Flora’s:

After the cafe, I hung out at the apartment for a while, then decided to go see The Amazing Spider-Man. Right as I made that decision, another of New Orleans’ daily thundershowers started. The rain was really bucketing down, and I decided to stay in. Then it let up for a few minutes so I went for it. And of course I was about two blocks away when the bucketing resumed. But I had an umbrella and it was a warm rain. Nice, actually.

SPOILER ALERT! I probably won’t actually spoil anything in this paragraph, but I will make a few comments about the movie, so if you don’t want to read them, just skip to the next paragraph. I liked The Amazing Spider-Man. Both Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone were well cast, and I enjoyed the look of the movie. My major complaint is that every franchise reboot has to retell the origin story. Really? He was bitten by a wonky spider. He has superpowers. We get it. Can we just start from there? Or even give a little history in flashbacks or something? Instead we spend the first half of the movie figuring out how he becomes Spider-Man and watching Peter Parker learn to use his powers and watching the classic story of Uncle Ben. Oy. But it was good and I enjoyed it.

END OF SPOILER SECTION

BEGINNING OF GRUMPY OLD MAN SECTION

Now a few words about the theater where I saw the movie. I went to the Theaters At Canal Place, right on the main tourist strip downtown. The ticket cost $17, which is even more than New York. The theater had at-your-seat food service. Menus and everything, and servers who took your order and brought your food. I didn’t get anything, of course. I was still in shock from the ticket price and I’m traveling on an austerity budget. However, the fact that were servers and that you could summon them at any time using a button at your seat, meant that all during the movie there were people walking in front of the screen delivering drinks and food. This wasn’t stadium seating, either, so they really were walking in front of the screen. For $17, I don’t expect to be repeatedly taken out of the movie by the sight of a head traveling in front of the image.

END OF GRUMPY OLD MAN SECTION

I walked home from the movie. It was a warm but gorgeous night and people were out in droves. That means “crowds,” right? I walked up North Peters Street, which is one block removed from the main drags and was a little quieter as a result. I like cities at night, particularly when you’re a little off the beaten path.

So that was my day. I’m not sure what this week will bring. Probably a loooooong bus ride back north. And the search for housing. And some time with people I love. But who knows?

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