So, I started something in Franklin that I’d like to make a tradition when I travel. On my last morning, I got up early and took one last bike ride around town. I wanted to see how the town looked and felt as the day began. I’d grown accustomed to the place and was sad to be leaving. The only that helped was knowing I was heading to New Orleans.
One thing I noticed: people really use their front porches. There was no traffic on the street when I passed this boy and his grandmother, but that didn’t seem to matter. They seemed to enjoy just sitting there together, watching the day take shape. I love that their expressions are identical.
I also wanted to say goodbye to some of the people I’d met. This is Rex. The first time we met, he and his friend, Steve, were sitting on his porch drinking coffee, which they do most mornings. I waved as I passed, and Rex called me over. “Were are you from?” he wanted to know. We got to talking and I told him how much I loved south Louisiana. “You need to move down here, city girl.” “I know,” I said. “I’d love to have a house here.” Turns out, Rex’s house was for sale. He showed me around and introduced me to his pet wolf, who he brought in from the backyard. The wolf sleeps on the couch in the living room, growls and whines on command, and sits in the front seat of Rex’s van.
While I was talking to Rex, this guy pulled up in his truck. His name is Clarence, and he’s a drummer who moved to Franklin from New Orleans after Katrina. He told me how he used his truck to transport dead bodies after the levees broke. I asked if he planned to move back to New Orleans. “I like it here,” he said.
It rained pretty hard the morning I left New Orleans, so I stuck around Peter’s house for a while. Peter threw a wonderful party the night before, and conversation got pretty lively with talk of psychological profiles and escapades at The Raw Hide. The next morning was quiet, though, and when I came over from my unit, Peter was in the kitchen making tea and cutting slices of the frosted banana cake he’d served for dessert the night before. Cake and tea for breakfast . . . Dick’s Chilton County peaches were the perfect compliment.
One thing you’ll see when you visit New Orleans is lots of construction–new sidewalks, home renovations. It takes a lot of work to maintain an old city.
I ate at this cafe, the Croissant d’Or, the last time Warrington and I were in NOLA. The Saints had just won the Super Bowl and there was a huge “Who Dat?” painting on the wall. Be sure to stop by for a pastry and an espresso–you’ll almost feel like you’re in France.
Mrs. Daniels, the Senator’s mother-in-law, is a New Orleans native. She moved into her French Quarter apartment after Katrina. I stopped by to say hello and we visited for a few minutes. This is the view from her living room.
By ten o’clock, the city was wide awake. I wanted to avoid the tourists, who were already clogging the sidewalk, but I needed to get cash for the cab and the ATM was a few blocks north. This guy had clearly spent a lot of time coordinating his outfit. You can’t see them, but he’s wearing black high-top converse.
Saying goodbye is never easy for me. I don’t like the fun to end. I knew leaving Louisiana would be difficult and had tried to prepare myself, but that last morning in New Orleans was tough. The place had gotten under my skin, in my blood; the people were in my heart. So, in order not to cry, I reminded myself that I’d be back soon, and that helped a little. In French, there are a couple ways to say goodbye. You can say, “au revoir,” which is formal, or you can say, “À la prochaine,” which is widely used among very good, close friends and means “good bye until next time.”
So, to my Louisiana friends and the place that always makes me happy, “À la prochaine.”