Many things have happened to me over the course of the past week. A hazy film of alcohol and lust has rendered me incapable of transcribing several of those events. The photographs I’ve taken serve as a loose reminder of what I’ve seen. They do no justice to what I’ve felt.Here’s what i remember:
- Lying out in the Fly, watching the sun set with Katie.
- Making morning omelets and discussing astral projection with Daniel.
- I was paid off by the insurance company.
- I partook in an authentic Louisiana home cooked meal with Katie and her family.
- My bike was repaired and sustained much less damage than originally anticipated.
- I helped out at Plan B, the NOLA bicycle Co-op.
- I played with a puppy
- I watched the Tchoupitoulas natives march down the street. I never took the time to understand why they were marching down the street.
- I stood and watched two lovers passionately dance with each other to and audience of drunks. Their ability to neglect their surroundings and find solace in each other’s eyes was stronger than any war machine.
- I biked through the run-down neighborhoods of New Orleans. Its inhabitants stood outside in their overgrown front yards and shared a meal with their neighbors. Sometimes the most impoverished have all the riches.
I was so on top of the ball writing about every day’s events. Then I became swept up by the seductive prowess of New Orleans. There is an undeniable stranglehold on my motivation. I never realized how much Odysseus and I shared until this moment.
A constant strung out note from a French horn has left its somber ringing in my ear since I entered this cauldron of lure. Part of me sits impatiently; anxiously yearning for the moment I can saddle up and ride east. Another part of me clings desperately to anything tangible in an effort to maintain sincerity with the shreds of semi-established relations I’ve formed here. I am a marionette here, yet I’m pulling my own strings. It’s just in the direction that I think people want me pull them. And that’s a problematic way to live.
I passed up an invitation to Nashville with Caitlin, Mitchell, and Stephanie. Much of my time is spent wondering what my life would be like had I said yes. Where would I be today? New Orleans has hindered my ability to truly live in the moment. I feel in the moment around Katie and Daniel. However, when I am free from distraction and forced to contemplate my own self, I generate scenarios in which I am somewhere else, doing something else. I often think about what it will be like returning to my bedroom. Sifting through old relics of the past, I’ll be reminded of the choices I made that led me to this day. I’ll probably spot a girl I obsessed over in high school while thumbing through my dusty yearbook. A coy smile will find its way upon my face and ill reminisce over all the times we never shared together. The shoebox of old love letters undoubtedly finds its way into the spotlight. Like a flash flood, I am barraged with images, glimpses into the past of fleeting happiness, inevitably crushed by reality. I’ll be 24, in my old bedroom with a half empty beer. Its condensation leaves a temporary mark of missed opportunity on my wood desk. The Pixies will serenade my eardrums while the realization that my past is simply that. The past.
In the meantime, I’ll cling desperately to the memory of some perfume or article of clothing from a fiction romance as I traverse these crowded French Quarter streets. I’ll stop. Look around at all the drunken buffoons, transvestites, and scallywags and realize that I’m all alone. I’m not in my room. I’m standing in someone else’s bile. I’ll smile. I’ll smile because I’m not in my room. I’m not wondering what life is like from the comfort of four walls and an empty bed. I’m living life. This is a life worth living. This is a city worth living life in. But so is every city. So is every small town, dusty farm, lush forest, and cookie cutter suburb. Location is meaningless. The human connection is everything. Therein lays my repeating foundation of torment. I form connections with people, but then have to choose whether or not to disconnect myself from them in order to continue onward with my journey. Sometimes it works out well. Sometimes l leave someone right before they get a chance to realize just how fucked up my head is. Sometime I get a chance to leave right before their stinger’s poison numbs me into a state of perpetual apathy. Sometimes I contemplate bailing on this trip. What is driving me to continue onward? What is it that I’m really looking for? The closer I get to New Jersey, the more anxious I grow. What if I haven’t fully harnessed the meaning of this trip before completing it? My bicycle is my horse. And a horse is not a home. I need to go home. I can’t stay here. I am leaving another city and leaving another significant person behind. I could stay longer and spend more time with Katie, but I would just be prolonging the inevitable. I have to continue onward and finish what I started. I have to ride. I have to ride. This silly little plan to take a bicycle across the country has developed into a true test of mental endurance. I can close my eyes and run my hands over my exhausted face. I’ve been practicing that action a great deal these days. I’ve also gotten really good at kissing a girl’s forehead and telling her how much she means to me. That part’s easy because it’s true. The hard part is leaving. I’m even better at that. NOLA is putting me to the test. This girl is putting me to the test.