As a rule, I am welcome to go with him. The hotel room is paid for, his food is paid for, and the only real out-of-pocket expense would be whatever I need to eat to survive. But we have a baby (a toddler, now), and since toddlers as a group do not tend to be synonymous with ease of travel, the Took and I have always opted to stay home until now.
But a few months ago Mr. approached me with the idea of going to New Orleans with him, and I jumped at the chance. We went back and forth for several weeks about whether or not we should take the baby with us. Michael had . . . reservations. But he ultimately left the decision up to me and, since the baby has really only been out of town once in his life, I was all "The kid stays in the picture!!!"
(***This is a lie. What I actually said was something along the lines of: 'Let's take him. He'll enjoy it. He won't be any trouble.' And then I drifted off into a fantasy of strolling around New Orleans with my little one, his eyes shining with delight as we taste-test pralines and beignets, dancing in the streets to the jazz of sidewalk musicians, and laughing at street performers. . . .I will readily admit that at no point in this colorful fantasy did I give any real thought to the difficulties involved with attempting to change a diaper on a busy sidewalk packed with tourists. . .
Sometimes my fantasies get the best of me. Also, I can on occasion, be a little naive.)
But Mr. swallowed his objections like a good sport should, and on Monday morning we put out the kitties' automatic feeders, loaded several bags (one containing nothing but brightly colored plastic blocks) and the baby into the truck, and set off on our mini-vacation.
. . . and, for me personally, by marathon reading sessions interspersed with power-naps.
(No photo available.)
Also, about 5 miles after we left home, I was pulling my hair back and became aware of a dent in the back of my head that I had previously been unaware of. (Like, for real, just at the base of my skull. . . a dent.) Once I FOUND IT, of course, I became RATHER concerned with it, AND with the fact that I had never noticed it before. This prompted me to assume that the dent was new, and probably recent. (I was worried about it for several miles. . . Have I had a head injury?? Would I remember it if I had?? . . . My imagination ran amok with theories about what would cause this portion of my skull to cave in, and whether or not it was likely that it would kill me within the next few days. Because we were on vacation, after all, and I would hate for the experience to be tainted due to a simple thing like cranial collapse.
My sweet husband, of course, was INCREDIBLY concerned with the dent, as with the possibility of impending disaster that it represented.
I believe his exact words were: "You are insane."
. . . Which was less supportive than I had hoped for, to be sure, and hurt me quite deeply. . . but then I got distracted, and forgot about it. --VACATION!!!!-- Sometimes short attention spans can be a blessing.)
So the drive was largely uneventful, until the point where we got about 12 miles away from our destination and suddenly I became aware of the sensation that someone was trying to shove a large brick under my eyelid.
I pulled down the passenger seat visor and scrubbed at it furiously. (Probably the wisest, and most prudent course of action.)
Michael: "What's wrong?"
Me: *scrub, scrub, scrub* "I have something in my eye."
Michael: "Like what?"
Me: *scrub scrub* "Like. . . I dunno. . . a Miata?"
So by the time we got to the hotel to unload everything, I looked like I had just been beaten pretty severely.
It did not go away. My eyes became gross and goopy.
. . . I had the pink eye.
(Which now means that everyone in the house has had it except for Michael. But on the positive side. . . this also meant that I had drops for it.)
Since I had been treating the baby's eyes for the last several days, I was very much aware that pink eye is supposed to be highly contagious. . . So for the rest of the week, everywhere we went, I imagined myself as Patient Zero in some kind of sci-fi film: walking around, unknowingly perpetrating a pandemic. . . I pictured a map, with little red dots pinpointing the "outbreak zones" as I travelled around the city. . . in my mind, I was the Typhoid Mary --- Pink Eyed Dani!!! --- of New Orleans.
DEATH FLEW IN MY WAKE!!!!
. . . But when I shared this notion with Michael, he just said that even if it goes untreated, that pink eye tends to resolve itself in about 2 weeks. (I don't think I have to tell you how disappointed this made me feel. But he loves me enough to be honest.) So he said that, essentially, I would be the bringer of a plague that made people mildly uncomfortable and goopy for about 14 days.
(We have learned to take disappointment in stride.)
So I decided to refer to it as my Wonky Eye, we got all our stuff up to the hotel room, changed clothes and hit the street.
Ahhh. . . New Orleans. =)
I love this place.
We made our way around, no particular destination in mind, enjoying the sights and sounds and smells.
"It stinks," Michael says.
And he is quite right. Occasionally, it does.
But this is what I love about New Orleans, honestly.
This is my first time here since Katrina. And enough time has passed, and enough restoration occurred, that I am happy to find it largely the same as I remember it. . .
It is music in the air. A lively beat that covers everything you see, as fully as the blanket of almost-tangible humidity that coats you instantly, frizzes your hair and makes you sweat, and ultimately binds us all together. It is a place where a deck of tarot cards can be an investment in your future. It is 500 souvenir shops that all sell the same 15 t-shirts. =) It is creativity, raucous laughter, and the smell of seafood and beignets. It is daiquiris and sweat, jazz and panhandlers, and a city full of people that actually say "Good morning!" to you.
It is flawed, and beautiful, and unapologetic.
It is Human Stew, and I adore it. =)
We make our way through the French Quarter, and eventually wander up to a restaurant that we take a chance on for dinner. I can't remember what it was called, but it was good. My fried shrimp po-boy took up the entire plate, and even though I was starving I only finished maybe half of it. Our waiter was nice enough to bring Took some fruit punch from the bar, and he enjoyed some saltines while his Daddy and I tucked in to our seafood. No toddler-meltdowns, so all in all it was a nice dinner.
The next day, Mr. had to do business-y things until about 5 p.m., so the little one and I were on our own for the day. At 8 a.m. I found myself standing in the bathroom, goopy-eyed and irritable, trying to figure out how to operate the teensy little coffee machine that the Holiday Inn had been kind enough to provide for us. Hmmmm. . . there was no filter, and just a meager amount of coffee in a little tea-bag.
As it turns out, I was right to be distrustful.
It was dreadful.
I needed some real coffee.
So Took and I got dressed, and in 15 minutes we were out the door and on our way to Cafe du Monde.
We found a table under the awning, the better to watch the people on the street, and in a matter of moments we had a sippy-cup full of orange juice, a plate of beignets, and a REALLY fantastic frozen cafe au lait for me.
This is enough caffeine to see me through a morning of sight-seeing, and at lunchtime we head back to the hotel for a nap. (As seen here:)