I’m lonely. And exhausted. It’s been almost 9 months since we packed up our belongings and made our way to the Crescent City, but it feels like a lifetime has passed. I think I’m only beginning to process everything. In other words, the ramifications of our decision to uproot our family and our life is washing over me like oh so many tidal waves. Sometimes I think I may be drowning.
Let me drop back a few paces. Ever since I was an adolescent I fantasized about New Orleans. Trumpets in Heaven didn’t sound as sweet as those peals erupting from second line processions in my mind. I could already smell the food (it’s better in real life) and feel the feathers from those lovingly handcrafted Mardi Gras Indian suits. And the colors that came to mind in my daydreams were always brighter than anything Crayola had ever concocted. I’m pretty sure my father thought I had lost my mind when I spoke of my longing to be here. And of course all he could imagine was hearing of my death via stray bullet.
My teens and early twenties were filled with horrible boyfriend decisions, countless roommates, copious mixed drinks, tattoos, nights of live music, and lots of dreaming of New Orleans. I just couldn’t let this city go. Odder still, I’d never crossed the twin span across the mighty Mississippi. Never set foot in the city. And then I met Zach.
In all my hemming & hawing about whether I was ready for (yet another failed?) committed relationship, he gave me the one thing I’d been too afraid to give to myself-a trip to New Orleans, the city of my dreams! Words cannot describe my delight, nor his realization that I was the woman he wanted to marry. It didn’t take long for me to jump aboard and so began my real love affair with NOLA; one that escalated with every trip we made to the city. It was a drug I couldn’t get enough of. And then, after almost four years of waiting, we had finally committed to moving here.
The Monday we were set to move was rapidly approaching. Our house was packed and the UHaul waiting to be picked up & packed. Then Saturday night, as Zach was flipping our steaks on the grill, I laced up my rollerskates and promptly broke my ankle skating in the house. And so we moved almost 700 miles with my ankle broken, but my dreams crushed. I cannot explain the guilt I felt or the realization that washed over me as despair set in.
Let me be clear, I had NO idea what I’d gotten myself into. And hence, the lonely, exhausted lady sitting before you. Twenty-nine years of living in the Soda City hadn’t braced me for losing my friends, family, and ultimately a slice of myself. It’s been a harsh wake-up call to realize that I really do have to start over. I had friends in Columbia that I’d know for years and years and years. And those folks had seen my multiple metamorphoses. But here, I didn’t realize I was truly poised to reinvent myself, yet I was, and am, terribly unprepared. In addition, the first six months here were spent in utter solitude at the house on crutches with a spry 1-1/2 year old just beginning to walk.
I don’t know how to be myself anymore. I feel so uninteresting. It’s difficult for me to connect and it’s utterly exhausting. I keep feeling like I’ve got to give a life story in order to make a friend-and lemme tell you, my story is long and sordid. Can’t we just skip it? Can I?