Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Heading Home -- Part One

Finally, I’m back to the basics of being home in the holler. I began the journey home four days ago, and it has taken this long to get semi-settled. You’d think I was traveling in a covered wagon, but I traveled in my trusty Villager with over two hundred ten thousand miles on the odometer.

The complications to homecoming came about in several ways. First, because I hadn’t anticipated setting up housekeeping in New Orleans, I hadn’t anticipated how long breaking camp would take. Moving all the provisions for a party spanning five days with over fifty attendees can be a challenge even when one has a driveway. It’s particularly problematic when there’s no parking anywhere near your party place.

The meter maids are famous in New Orleans for their prompt attention to all illegally parked vehicles. I suspect that parking tickets are the major income stream into the city coffers, next to hotel taxes. If one wants to unload in a freight zone, one had better have either a commercial name on their delivery vehicle or a look-out to move the van in case of a meter maid sighting.

Setting up my apartment was done in stages, with the assistance of an army of people and vehicles, working in carefully orchestrated sequence. Breaking down was another matter entirely. After the army left with their vehicles, I was faced with the remaining air mattresses, tables, chairs, ice chest, food, linens, and everything else to continue my stay. Moving out had to be as carefully calculated as moving in had been, but with only me and my van to accomplish this. I was confident I could make this kind of move, as I had spent many years loading catering trucks, setting up functions, and breaking them down for transport back to headquarters.

I undertook a study of the parking places in and around my apartment before asking Karen to assist me in retrieving my ride from the suburbs. Upon my return to downtown, I was able to park on the street only five blocks from my temporary home. This is an easy walk, even if one is toting tons of stuff, as New Orleans is as flat as a salad plate.

Next, I devised a plan for using the massive rolling garbage can as a transport trolley. I was kind of enjoying the prospect of all the stares I’d get wheeling my household belongs down Canal Street in a hundred gallon garbage can. All the shopping cart people would have been inspired to new heights in mobile household possibilities.

As it turned out, there are a few hours per day of legal parking right next to my building -- and free legal parking all day on Sundays. In the early hours of Saturday, I was able to park in the freight zone long enough to load the things that were to be returned locally. This didn’t require the rolling mega-can, but the ice chest on wheels came in mighty handy as a transport trolley.

I was feeling pretty good about my progress, so I set out to visit Gayle and Michelle. After several hours with Gayle, I began to feel feverish. I attributed this to our impassioned conversation; we do tend to discuss deeply spiritual matters. When I hadn’t cooled down by the time I got back to New Orleans, I decided it was time to take my temperature. Michelle tucked a blanket around me and popped a thermometer in my mouth.

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