Wednesday, April 09, 2008

The Big Event part 1 - an English Girl abroad

Yes...I know I have been home from the USA for a whole week now, and I'm deeply ashamed of my blogging inadequacy - but I've been living life at such a pace that finding time to blog it has been way beyond me.
Now, though, I'm beginning to feel that things are in the right places in the vicarage, even if I'm only beginning to learn what it might mean to be priest in charge of these parishes, so I'm snatching a few minutes to begin to blog some of "what happened next" after I ceased to be the Curate (and thus presumably forfeited the right to blog as "good in parts" for ever more)

The first thing to say about the RevGals Big Event is that it was wonderful. Completely and totally.
It was also the perfect liminal space for me to spend the days of my transition.
I was protected from the finality of moving from Privet Drive and from the endless grumpiness that is a by product of relocating.
I also got to spend time with some of my favourite people on the planet, and it was just lovely.

From the moment that a kind blogger collected me from Louis Armstrong airport, I knew myself to be welcome and among friends. NOLA is the most amazing city, somewhere I could wander happily for days. There seems to be none of that desperate "drive" I associate with 21st century America.
Instead, people saunter rather than dash....jazz, live and canned, fills the air...and the sun shines.
Goodness, yes. The sun does shine.
I had made the decision before leaving home that, as my family were being so amazingly generous in encouraging me to take the trip despite the pressures of packing and moving house, I would savour every moment. So, instead of panicking at the obvious luxury of my hotel, and its implications for my credit card, I sank gratefully into a bath before heading downstairs to eat oysters...Oysters, if you please! Just as well that I'd given myself that talking to (though in fairness I must say that they were among the least expensive items on the menu, and a perfect "light bite" after a day of endless travelling).
An excited phonecall from Revd Dr Kate, and then it was bed and sleep. Serious sleep.
My poor addled body-clock roused me early - but hey, there was a whole new city to explore...So I sat on a terrace overlooking the Mississippi where the paddle steamer Nanchez plied her trade, before hitting the shops in the Riverfront Mall.
I lunched on shrimp po'boy and gumbo and listened to fabulous jazz CDs, before choosing one to take home for LCM..
I wandered, strolled, anything but hurried up town to St Charles Avenue, where mardi gras beads still hung glinting in the trees beside the road.
Progress was slow, as I had to stop repeatedly to admire and photograph the timebered houses, with their wide verandahs and ornate wrought iron balustrades.
I just couldn't stop smiling. I was on my own in this friendliest of cities, accountable to nobody, free just to relax, to go wherever the mood took me, or simply to stay still and enjoy everything.
Of course I took the street car back down to the French Quarter...Of course, I was enchanted by the quarter itself, with its air of past romance bubbling just below the surface, its hints of the faintly macabre in cemetery art and voodoo shops...Of course I sat in the sun and listened to live jazz, while a skilled puppeteer made his creatures pick up their instruments and embark on the theme from the Pink Panther.
A pair of benevolent drunks befriended me outside the Cathedral and shared their Katrina stories and their pleasure in their city. For a moment there was a glimpse of something darker as they told me
"Of course you'll be safe down Bourbon Street at night as long as you stay away from...."(a nudge and a nod towards an African American who was sweeping the pavements) "people like him"...
I was sad.
Already more than half in love with the city, I wanted it to be flawless - but of course, nothing ever is. This is still the deep south, and not all the heritage that lingers is sweetly romantic.
As afternoon drifted towards evening I made my way back to the hotel, where my first RevGal had arrived and offered company for a further exploration. From then on the tenor and tempo of life changed, - but I'll always feel vaguely proprietorial about New Orleans. After all, we had spent a whole day alone together.


Songbird said...

What a lovely portrait of your day!

Cal said...

Oh you are wonderful.

It sounds amazing - and perfect timing.