I’ve Never Seen New York In The Fall

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My last night in New Orleans was sleepless. I did a bar crawl on Frenchmen street with κ² and α6. We drank profusely and ate crayfish hotdogs in a messy yet vibrant diner at 3am. I’m forgetting bits of the debauchery but I remember it was hot, noisy and joyful.

κ² was going to drive me to the station at 6am – in the objective to make me miss my train – but he fell asleep right before, and he’s too big and tall to be awaken by a lil girl like me. So I did my farewell to Sin city on board of a taxi whose driver’s grandfather had migrated from Sicily in 1903.

I took seat on board of the Amtrak to New York City at 7am. The sun was rising above New Orleans cemetery and I remember flying above the Mississippi River as if the train rails were literally lying on the water. I didn’t know if it was the reality or a trick from my drunken and sleepless imagination. I passed out on that image with the fear of drowning and woke up in Alabama.

I traveled for a day and a half through the landscapes of Georgia, Virginia, Washington DC, Delaware, for what I can recall. I spent most of the time with my nose stuck on the window, trying to absorb the depth of America.

I arrived in Brooklyn on a sunny Sunday afternoon and picked up the keys of my temporary home in “my” neighbourhood of BedStuy. I’m living a few blocks away from where I was living in the spring. Back home! Nothing has changed much. Only the autumn leaves replaced the snow of March.

I walk the same patterns I used to. The street art that I got familiar with is still there. It threw me back in time, reminded me of how I was feeling back then. That was several lives ago. Brooklyn is so similar to my memories that I can measure my own evolution even more clearly, like comparing two pictures of my inner self now and then. I’m way more on the highway of my life than I was at the time. There is still a considerable way to go, but there is hope as to the direction at least.

I went back to my writer’s café, The Civil Service – I have one in every city apart from the one where I officially live. This is where I started this blog seven months ago so I feel particular about this place. The first face I saw was familiar. That was a guy I interviewed to take over my bedroom after I would leave the country. We had a little chat. His haircut was different. Good to feel that New York knew I was in town.

I have never seen New York in the fall. This season suits the city. It covers it with an unusual softness, slows down its hectic pace. Carved pumpkins decorate the doorsteps, everything is orangey and Halloweeny. I feel like nesting and drinking spice latte on the deck of my temporary home, surrounded by colourful trees and clumsy squirrels.

I think about how I would feel if this flat was my permanent life, if I was going back to it every evening, if I didn’t have to pack my bags and move again, and again, and again. Feels like I’m always going somewhere next. Do I crave to live here just because I know I’ll be deported at the date stamped on my passport and that makes it the object of my burning desire? How much of my joy is due to the temporary factor? Gypsy trouble. So hard.

I am different from who I was in the spring and however my main interrogations are almost still the same.

Who is going to kiss me because they are drawn to my world and not because I am available lips? Where am I going to create a home that I won’t feel like blowing up after an undetermined amount of time?

Adventure shows up to me like that, I never turn it down. But settling down and opening up to intimacy is still the most unattainable thing on this side of my planet.

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New Orleans, Episode #1 – Sleeping in some Strangers’ Kitchen

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I can barely recall how events have chained up in the last 24 hours up to that point. There is a surreal dimension to it.

I got off the Amtrak in the City of Jazz yesterday at 5.30pm after 21 hours on the train. How glamorous I was feeling!

In the first seconds, New Orleans (aka NoLA) hit me like a sauna. I walked out of the station and saw the first palm trees. No one bothered to warn me that Louisiana was THAT tropical and I was feeling kinda stupid with my rainbow fur coat. I will have to use something else to make connections with strangers while I’m down here. I’m totally unequipped for that climate.

On the train, I had exchanged a bunch of text messages with 3 different people I didn’t know (friends of friends of friends) and I started losing track and mixing them up. The only tangible element I had was an address where a party was apparently happening later on, so I asked if I could just come over with my huge bag of irrelevant clothes. Someone texted ‘yes’ so I followed that track and got on a cab. I had a starting point at least.

I was excited to chat the taxi driver up, but he politely asked me to shut it cause his wife was on the phone. Welcome to town.

Then, magic kicked in. I got dropped off on Burgundy Street in front of this little Gone with the wind looking house plus palm trees. NoLa is movies. A tall and pretty ginger girl who looked like Madison Young (queer sex positive porn actress) came out of the house and asked me if I was me. I said yes. When I got inside the Gone with the wind looking house and found myself face to face with a giant papier mâché rib cage, I knew that I had been set up with the right people.

Pretty ginger porn star doppelgänger is μ3, her boyfriend working on the gigantic papier mâché skeleton is β4, and there was also their housemate α6, who is a mix of Salvador Dali and Alice in Wonderland crazy hatter. The three of them got on a car four months ago and moved to New Orleans from their native Ohio to make puppets, papier-mâché skulls, films and arty stuff. They all rock the world and welcomed me like a member of their family.

Their house is to die for, there are crazy details to watch in every corner. The house is “gunshot” shaped, which means that it is like a long corridor of rooms (back at the time with no air conditioning it was apparently the best way to get a draft). The legend says that it is called ‘gunshot’ because from the entrance door you can shoot your wife cheating on you in the last bedroom at the end of the corridor. Here, the first room is the crafty workshop.

We talked for a very long time drinking French wine and they gave me security tips cause the city is dangerous. α6 got mugged with a gun last week cause he walked home alone at 2am. So I will have to compromise on my night hawk and loner tendencies and rethink my travel habits. They all seem a bit concerned for my safety and made a map of areas not to go to. I’ve never really dealt with crime risks in all my US trips so it’s new to me.

Shortly after, κ² arrived at the house. He is the one responsible for all this. He worked with my super good friend H on a horror movie few years ago. His job title on movie sets is “grip” — which from what I understood means that he pushes the trolley with cameras when filming traveling shots. My description of it is probably heretic but it’s just to give a rough picture.

We all went around the corner to eat tapas. I’m French so I know my stuff regarding food, and these really were in the Top 2 best tapas I’ve ever had. NoLA is food! On top of it, I quenched my thirst with a house cocktail called “Hawaiian Erection”. I couldn’t have invented this.

The guys are going to set me up with a bunch of interesting people that I want to portrait for my blog. Their above neighbour is a drag queen and μ3‘s boss used to be a millionaire sent to jail for buying gifts to judges. Good encounters ahead.

More people came in later at arty house and I had great conversations about guns and death penalty with them. μ3 says she doesn’t like guns but prefers that citizens carry guns rather than having only representatives of the government carrying guns. Basically, she said that many Americans own guns to defend themselves against police and justice because they are not trustworthy. I had never thought of that under that light and that’s when soaking with locals is priceless. It is so easy to caricature Americans all the time with our European standards, just claiming they are violent for the sake of it and own guns to play it like western movies. Fuck clichés.

I was meant to sleep over at 겑s but arty house guys blew me a mattress and I slept in their kitchen. Of course.

I’m now writing this from a café in the French quarter. κ² is working on a movie set around the corner. I’m going to try to catch up with him in his lunch break. Maybe I’ll get a better understanding of what his job is actually about.

I can’t believe I didn’t know these guys 24 hours ago. Magic.