I am home.
The temperature is actually higher here than in New Orleans but I would bet 8.5 million dollars that it FEELS cooler here, that it is more comfortable here than there.
Not that I can get comfortable with this sunburn.
Okay, so where did I leave off?
Saturday was one of those days where we did very little and cared very little. It was a day of decompression. The highlights of the day included bug-hunting for the anoles, discovering that the “Mochasippi” blended frozen coffee drink at CC’s has only 90 calories which is like 8 billion fewer calories than the frappuccino! Adding sugar free hazelnut syrup added like 10 calories to the mix. It seems a little odd that after a week of scarfing down gumbo, sausages, ribs, jambalaya, beignets and god knows what else, I’d be concerned about the calories in my coffee drink. I’m a bubbo and it’s my prerogative to not make sense and to care very little about that.
So, David and his dad hammered out a plan for David and I to take the boat out on Sunday. The motor had just been repaired and needed to be installed. Sunday came around…
Smithers was right, women and seamen don’t mix! Seems I’m bad luck on the sailboat. As they were lowering the motor into place one of the handles snapped off and the whole thing fell into the marina. Saltwater is immediate death to all those little engine parts and they debated if they even wanted to retrieve it. My silent vote was for “no”. That water in the marina was stagnant and filthy and the last thing I wanted was for David to go into that foul stew of disease.
But of course he volunteered to go in and dive for the motor. Luckily, the marina is not all that deep. Unluckily, as he was climbing down the ladder the little notched supports snapped and the whole ladder fell off the boat and he fell into the water. I was very proud at how I did not freak out or scream!
They got the motor up and cleaned and back into the van to go get repaired so our plans to sail were scratched.
Instead, David’s dad took us out for Mexican food and sangria.
David’s dad is faculty at The Gulf Coast Research Lab (you can see him here) and as such he has access to the faculty apartments that they keep open for faculty that live out of town (which he does). He invited us to stay the night, but I declined. I didn’t really have a change of clothes with me for the next day as we were going to be sailing and no one cares what you look like on a sailboat, especially of the other person is your boyfriend. David and I had to run back to the sailboat to get some things for our Monday plans and he called again to offer the apartment. This time, there was some confusion and we were under the impression that we would have our own apartment to ourselves and I agreed thinking “hell yeah, a night without parental supervision!”.
Yeah, miscommunication, bummer. We shared the place with his dad but luckily he let david and I have the big bed and he took the smaller one.
We got up bright and early and had college center cafeteria breakfast and David and I headed out to Gulfport to catch the ferry out to West Ship Island. It was amazing. I wish I could describe everything in detail. A thunderstorm rolled in and chased everyone out of the water and into shelter except for David and I. We were adventurous or stupid? Only history answers these questions.
I fell in love with snorkeling once I got the hang of it, but we lost both snorkels in short order (they don’t float…why wouldn’t you make a snorkel that floated?). There was a great big crab in the water being pushed around by the waves and he kept threatening the current with his big claws. I saw a jellyfish a little smaller than my fist, David saw one bigger than that. The hermit crabs were plentiful under our feet and we picked them up and said “hi” as often as possible. I learned the hard way that nematocysts break off jellyfish all the time and will still sting you so occasionally you will be happily swimming along and you will get a singular jellyfish sting from a stinger no longer on a jellyfish. I found this out 5 or 6 times. I also found out that these things are so tiny they can easily get in your bathing suit.
The whole time we were swimming and playing in the water a sheepshead fish named Walter hung out by us. Anytime we went under he was there swimming not more than a few inches away. I’m pretty sure he hung out with us because we would stir things up from the bottom.
The coolest thing I saw was a porpoise that jumped out of the water not more than 36 inches from me. It was so cool and so fast I just could not react.
When we were alone in the water David took me, floated me on my back and swam me all over the place. It was so perfectly peaceful to have his arms around me as we floated over the waves and watched the storm roll over us. Very truly, I did not want that moment to ever end.
But end it did. We walked down the shore for a while and dug up the clams with our toes and watched them burrow back under the sand. If you dig the clams up and then keep your feet in the wet sand under them, they will burrow between your toes.
He took off exploring while I played in the surf and came running back with a giant horseshoe crab shell.
So sweet that way.
After the ferry ride back we met his dad at the sailboat with the newly washed and repaired motor which they installed with no problem. I sat on the dock and cooked an MRE using the special water activated heating bag.
And marvelled at how sunburned we’d gotten.
I cried in the car. I didn’t want to leave David again.
But I cheered up once I got my Mochasippi and we met Holly Peach for brunch at Stanley’s (the casual version of Stella! located around the block, same chef/owner). The food was excellent as was most of the stuff I’d eaten on this trip.
New Orleans is a place of magic, truly, the proof of which is the magic that brought me tgether with Holly Peach. How the hell else do you explain suddenly becoming fast friends with a person you met out of coincidence? Magic. The magic of new orleans is the yin to the gutter filth yang, it is the balance. It is what makes the city different from atlanta or houston which have the filth but not the magic.
Then I flew home. The trip was mostly uneventful. There was a hang up in atlanta and my flight was delayed but I was not so worried, these things happen. My dad and Kit bought me dinner and I blabbed on about fish and lizards and gumbo and sunburn and all that. and they listened patiently because they are good that way.
And the dogs missed me., and I missed them, and I missed my home and I am glad.
I am home.