The River (NOLA ’06)

There was no sleeping on those nights. I knew this, but still I tried. Laying on my unfolded futon in my tiny room, I could see the faint glow of the full moon through the wooden slats covered by the blue-tarp roof.

The air thick and hot, it wrapped around me like a fever sheet as I finally got out of bed. I stepped the few feet to the kitchen, careful not to bang my toe on anything in the dark, and looked out my favorite window onto the street one floor below. The willow tree that on a breezy day would reach inside was as still as death, as was everything else I could see. The porchlights on the small homes across the street looked like they were shining through a light gauze, and leaning on my kitchen counter, gently pulling the branches of the willow through my hands & loving the feeling of its life, I knew that it was far too hot for me to sleep. I could either fold up my futon, sit down & write, or…

I looked at the clock. Still around 8 hours until I needed to be out at Jackson Square. I liked being there earlier, but definitely no later than 11am for the lunch crowd walking up & down Decatur. I would stand until the storms came through, nearly every day like clockwork around 2:30 or 3, and use that time to either grab a café au lait and beignet’s at Du Monde, or just sit on my milk crate and rest underneath the balcony of the nearest building, reading, writing, and waiting the hour or so it took for the thunder, lightning & rain to move on.

So much, I love the storms. Many times I would just sit there watching the rain splash into puddles of itself, and feel a charge roll through my body & mind as the lightning flashed & thunder rumbled across the sky, through my body. It felt like I was a part of it, and if I wanted to, if only I knew how, I could simply disappear into its magic & become a part of the storm’s passion, leaving everything behind & off to another new adventure…

Still naked, I put on some clothes & my boots, poured some ice-water into my thermos to bring with me, and stepped outside, locking my door behind me. At the top of the stairs I breathed in, and smelled the fragrant still air of the Southern night. Completely relaxed but eager to feel the wind on my face, I quietly walked down the stairs, unlocked my bike, then walked out the front gate on to Esplanade. I thought a few seconds, then realized – I knew exactly where I was going.

It felt beautiful to be riding through the streets. Everyone was inside & the city was still quiet from everyone leaving because of Katrina, so the streets were mine, & mine alone. In no rush to get where I was going, I swerved back & forth from side to side, sometimes riding up on to the sidewalk for a bit then back into the middle of the street, or randomly riding in extended figure 8’ts, at the top of each “8” moving just a little bit more in the direction I was going. The warm wind on my face felt glorious, and feeling so wonderfully light-hearted, knowing these moments were as perfect as they could possibly be, I wanted this one to last as long as it could.

Crossing through Jackson Square Park then Decatur, I smiled & circled around the spot where I would be standing again in just a few hours, visualizing hundreds of people putting 5’s, 10’s & 20’s into my busking box. I was still saving up for a van to get Raven & I to Burning Man, as I’d promised her a ride a month or so before without having a ticket or any way to get us there at the time, but knowing things would work out. In those days, they always did. In those days, I was magic.

There was no one around, so I didn’t bother locking my bike – just laid it down off the sidewalk on the rocks. There was a soft glow from the moon, but still I was proud of myself that I had thought to bring a flashlight as I stepped from rock to rock, down to the river. Finding a good rock to sit on right on the edge of the Mississippi, I saw the cargo ships downriver, silent, still, & peaceful. I couldn’t help but think of what it was like a hundred years ago, remembering all I could of “Huck Finn”. I guess if I ever had a hero, someone I wanted to emulate, it would, without question, be him – with a good helping of Samuel Clemens thrown in for writing & the Gentleman.
Feeling on my face the slightest whisper of a cool breeze coming off the river the full moon giving just enough to see the ripples in the water moving with the current… and as I sat there savoring this perfect solitude, I felt my heart beating and strong, full with the beauty of this life.

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To Go.

To live each day as if it has been stolen from death. To wake up every morning knowing that the possibilities are infinite, to release myself from the burden of “how” & the anguish that I encounter every day. To grab Ruby & drive to the Sea, to the mountains, to my mother. To raise my voice and shout at the sky “I am alive, I am wonderful, I am free. I AM.

To feel again the roads underneath me, always looking forward at what I can be, not what I was. The past always takes from the present. To again realize the physicality of the world has its boundaries only if my will is weak, only if I am afraid. To again accomplish the things that the normal person would think impossible.

To go. The wheel lightly held in my hands, the windows down & wind cleansing away the past. To wonder in anticipation and excitement what lies around the next corner, over the next crest. To keep going and discover where I end up. Always forward. For a driver, a wanderer, a dreamer, not having these things takes away part of the soul.

I wake up every morning and say “I wish.” I wish I could take myself and Ruby to the Sea, to the mountains. I wish I could get to events & trade shows to show people the things I can make when my hands meet my heart. I wish I could help people get to where they need to go, visit others who can’t go anywhere. I wish I could visit my Birth Mother, and finally get to know the woman who gave me this life. I wish I could make hers better. I wish I could get in my car and just go, leaving the unforgiving brutality of the sidewalks behind me and again follow the wind. Again follow my dreams.

I wish.

I will.

Do you know what it means…

As I weave the rings together, I half-watch various TV series that I remember enjoying, and this time, it’s Treme – a show based in New Orleans, centered around the music of the city – and the pain & frustration that Katrina left in her aftermath.
The first show of the series begins three months after The Storm – one month before I moved there, and the first time I ever stepped foot on the magick of its soil.
I find tears coming to my eyes frequently, as I remember the amazing people, the fun & friends I met that remain in my heart to this day, and the spirit of the city.
I had never experienced a city stronger, with more resolve, nor people with more love for their home.
Until I moved there, I had never truly understood what that word meant – only that I had never had one. I chose to call it mine shortly after I moved there, and in a strange and not so subtle way, I could *feel* that it accepted me into its arms. It loved me back.

I performed on the street as a living statue while living there, and my most common pitch – one of the best ones in the Quarter – was on Decatur Street in Jackson Square Park, directly across from Cafe’ du Monde.
I have many funny, sad, & beautiful stories from those months, one being a NOPD officer who had grown kind-of friendly with me in passing, and one day, as a group of about 15 tourists stood around me gawking & ignoring my tip box, I hear, seemingly over a PA system: “Put. Some Money. In The Box!” – and turned just enough to see him sitting in his car, smiling at me. I almost laughed at how quickly they reached deep into their wallets & pocketbooks, but couldn’t break character.
Another day there was the child being dragged along by his mother like a piece of old luggage, on her way to the next tourist shopping destination. She had him by the wrist, his arm stretched as far as it would go as he tried to look around at the people, the horses & carriages, and all the things that a young boy should be able to take the time to explore, to wonder about & ask endless questions to an annoyed parent.
As they were walking by me, the mother didn’t look twice in her one-person shopping stampede – she had the blinders of a well-oiled consumer, but the *boy*… the boy, he noticed that maybe something just wasn’t entirely right with that statue, with it’s white skirt gently luffing in the breeze, scuffed shoes… there was something that caught his eye, and as he looked up at my face, I caught his with mine – and I winked at him. It was something small – I just wanted him to know that *I* saw him. That he had a friend.

His jaw dropped and eyes popped open to near the point of being nothing but a caricature of a lazily carved pumpkin, and as he realized his feet needed to keep moving due to the ignorant machine of the relentless force dragging him along, he jogged to catch up & ran a little ahead so she might see him, remember he was there and listen as he said with the hope of her hearing him – “Mom – there’s someone *IN* there!”

A couple people in the series are street musicians, and as the camera switched to the other person, I saw that they were standing exactly where I did, and according to the show, exactly where I would be just a little over a month later.

This time, my eyes weren’t deep enough to keep the tears from falling.

Gods, I miss New Orleans.

NOLA.Statue

I live for…

I met T. in Austin in 2005, during the four months I lived in a tent in the Austin Enchanted Forest. It was during Katrina, and that’s why I was there. To help.

T was kind, warm, comforting, and we became friends quickly, easily. There were many nights she stopped by my tent when I was writing, and quickly learned that I meant no harm when I told her to shut up for a little bit. I liked that.
We sometimes cuddled, often held each other. She was everything for me when Bean was killed, just letting me cry as I held her and not saying anything, because there was nothing and certainly no words that could make it better.
At least, that’s how I remember her during those months.

We’ve seen each other once since I left Austin, in a beautiful home I was staying at in New Orleans a few years later. I xzerbited her belly as I taught her to stiltwalk, desperately trying to maintain her grip on the rafters while I did nearly everything to distract her, both of us laughing hysterically while she tried not to fall & I made sure I was ready to catch her if she did.
She let go of her fears, held onto the rafters.

Some time after that, she sent me a message saying she was pregnant & was going to name her child, whether boy or girl, after me.

It’s difficult to render me speechless, but that certainly did it.

the amount of gratitude & love I feel for not only her, but so many other people I have met along the road, as well as the incredible family of friends I have here is truly overwhelming – and it’s because of all of you that I fight the way I do when things turn scary and I need to remember the Warrior inside of me to keep going – to keep creating, keep changing, keep dreaming – and making my dreams come true.

I will never be able to thank you enough, any of you – but I *can* show you ho grateful I am for having all of you in my life, and you better fucking believe I will – and gloriously.
I’ve had difficulty with getting past certain points with my book and the campaign for publishing, but figured out why now. IT’s also the reason I’ve been getting sick. Stay tuned for an apartment purge as soon as I get out of here – most everything will be for free, others I’ll need either trade or scratch – but we’ll cross that bridge in about a week when I escape this place.

This is what I found this morning in my PM’s, and the reason for this entire post.
I just couldn’t help but share it with you, because I like sharing the things that make me feel amazing with people…

“…Just wanted to check in on you, and am sad to see you are a mess right now. I hope you are getting proper veggies and such from your local friends.

Nico Ksea **** is 5 years old now, and a big sister!

I keep a little picture of you I stole from the interwebs in a frame, and recently she asked about it.
I said, “this is the man who taught me how important it is to write, and use beautiful words, even for ugly things. He is one of the most amazing, most special people in the world, so that’s why I gave you his name.”
And she stole the picture to hang on her wall. Little stinker.

I love you, big time! Even though I have been away and under a rock raising my little goblins, I keep you in my heart all the time, every day.”

This is what keeps me alive, what I live for.
I live to be all I possibly can be – for you.

Thank you for letting me.

I fucking love you.