Well, here I am in Mississippi. I left New Orleans this afternoon. I left Daniel, I left Katie, and I left that free and easy lifestyle. I miss that city already. More importantly, I miss the people in it. But I know I have to keep riding on. I have to finish this journey. It’s just tough when you really care about a person and you know that you’re going to have to leave them. In my mind I disregard that solemn reminder until the reality of the situation surfaces. Last night it surfaced. As Katie and I left her Mom’s house after a bountiful meal of rotisserie chicken and royal pudding, we locked eyes, gave each other a halfhearted smile, and both knew. Reality bites. Spending all my time trying to fend off this exact moment distracted me from all the blithely experiences we shared together. As a result, I never truly felt in the moment with Katie. Until last night. There was an unforeseen comfort in our predicament. I think the reality that our time was over was comforting for the mere fact that is was finally a reality. No longer was I meandering through a dreamlike state like I was for the past three weeks. Even the most bittersweet of moments were at one point sweet. We held on to that as we held on to each other.
I learned something from my time in New Orleans.: You must be present. Living in the past leads to regret and depression. Living in the future leads to anxiety and worry. Living in the present albeit stressful, is at least presence. Immersing oneself in a conversation or event with undivided attention seems like a fleeting art form these days.
It was difficult saying goodbye to Daniel and Katie. I learned so much from them. But I know that I be able to see both of them come June. So last night we clanked our bottles together and cheered to June. To June.
So a lot went on in my last few days in New Orleans. I visited the NOLA brewery and watched crusties get loaded. I finally walked down Bourbon Street, smelled the vile stench of vomit permeate the walkway. Through the humid mist of sin and debauchery, there was some incredibly fantastic live music. I think I’m going to miss that the most. Anywhere you walk in that city, there was someone with a sax, guitar, or accordion. I ate crawfish. I searched for snakes with Katie and her brother Stephen. I napped in the park and awoke to children’s laughter from the playground. That’s the greatest alarm clock ever. Ugh, I did a lot of things, I just can’t remember them. I neglected to write down many of my experiences and the onslaught of stimuli was far too much for me to mentally keep track of. Oh well, I patiently await the random flashbacks to hit me when I’m old and decrepit, rocking on some old porch in some old rocking chair. There’s always so much more to write about. How can you write when you’re too busy doing things worth writing about? There just ain’t enough time.
Anyway, I’m in Mississippi now. It’s not too different from Louisiana. Same looking swamps. Same looking bewildered drivers. I’ve got 600 miles to get to St. Petersburg by April 3rd. That’s what I have my eyes on now. Getting to St. Petersburg and seeing Melissa. I don’t really care about anything else but that. So for now, I’ll just try to stay warm, find a little patch of woods to spend the night, and readjust to the survivalist mentality. The stars are my roof yet again. I can adjust to that one pretty easily.
Last night I found a cockroach in Katie’s house. She wanted me it kill it. I couldn’t. This cockroach, while undesirable, didn’t choose to be a cockroach. He didn’t deserve to die for that. I picked it up and put it outside. None of us chose to be who we are. None of us deserves to be stomped on. This has been a wild, fucked up year for me. No one’s going to squash it. I’m going to make it through this year.
Total Ascent: 354 ft.