It was snowing as we arrived.
"Thats strange," noted the woman sitting by us on the plane.
I have seen many things in NOLA, rain from the sky, ashes of my father, pouring into the Mississippi, music floating through the air.
But the snow felt otherworldly.
I remember what Scout said when she first saw the unfamiliar image in To Kill a Mockingbird.
"The world's end'in"
Atticus laughed. We laughed, a giddy feeling.
We were back in NOLA. It had been three years since I'd gone there to say goodbye to Dad.
We traveled to NOLA to take in the writers conference in Pirates Alley, off Jackson Square, where Faulkner wrote Soldier's Pay in the 1920's.
Its not quite clear, at least for me, how to navigate Faulkner's kaleidoscopic landscape of memories, folklore and a make believe geology that seems more real than our magic reality. Most of my literary heroes, Marquez, Vargas Llosa, Borges, found their voices ripping off his sensibility, transporting reflections on his made up Yoknapatawpha County, into a Macondo all the world would find a place for themselves in.
On the way, one sentence that seemed to stick with me from Absalom, Absalom:
"...our father knew who his father was in Tennessee and who his grandfather had been in Virginia and our neighbors and the people we lived among knew that we knew and we knew they knew we knew and we knew that they would have believed us about whom and where we came from even if we had lied, as as anyone could have looked at him one and known that he would be lying about who and where and why he came from by the very fat that apparently he had to refuse to say at all..."
We were not refusing to say anything. It was weird to be in NOLA without my dad, who always told stories about where we came from, embellishing a bit here, elaborating a bit there, rarely letting the truth get between him and a good story. Growing up in Dallas and visiting grandparents in Thomasville GA, NOLA was always the best place to stop in between, getting lost, eating beignets, listening to steel drums, visiting the voodoo museum, that was my NOLA. Over the years, we saw Pete Fountain play together, had jazz brunch at Commander's Palace, dropping by after a visit to Mississippi or Florida, meeting there every for years until he finally shuffled off and we spread his ashes in the Mississippi and around the French Quarter.
Only memories of Dad were with us this time, those and the lingering wreckage of the storm that hit two days after we visited in August of 2005. These days, dodging storms seems like all we do.
But we'd make due. We were staying in a neighborhood in Marigny:
"Where are the bands playing?" I asked a man standing outside.
"Just over here."
He pointed to the back door.
"Do they have food there?"
"Some of the best in the world. Get the Buffo Balls."
And thats exactly what we did, listening to the sweet tunes drinking NOLA Blonde Ale. At first they laughed that no one was there. But the room filled up. The cook walked up to make sure the food was right. It certainly was. More beer and music.
The music, red beans and rice fortified us, Caroline and i talked about the story and a memory from San Francisco.
Thats your story she told me, smiling.
She's the talent.
We all channel the feeling here.
"If a story is in you, it has to get out," advised Faukner.
Such a feeling being here thinking about there, countless stories growing out of the Crescent City and its many graves.
It was a little scary to leave.
But we were not the first feel that way.
"Leaving New Orleans also frightened me considerably. Outside of the city limits the heart of darkness, the true wasteland begins," writes John Kennedy Toole. We are always entering and leaving it, just like those drives from the farm in Bridgeboro and Dallas, coming and going, dropping in for the night, looking at the graves above the ground, the Spanish moss in the trees in the distance, the road house food. The road goes on forever. I can still feel the breeze in my face.
|A return to a lovely snowy brooklyn and its majestic skies.|