Things I Will/Will Not/Have/Have Not Miss(ed)
Greetings from a cheap and yucky Charlottesville motel. We're on our way home. We were supposed to leave by Tuesday, but moving without any help has proven to be a much bigger deal than I could have possibly imagined. Setting up a household in another city, even if only for 4 1/2 months, means having to stock it and furnish it. I had to buy a lot of things for the house (the kitchen alone was a major deal to furnish) and Renard and I stuffed every inch of the car with things from home when we brought it up in October. Now, everything had to be either returned home or given away. Most of the things we gave away to other families from New Orleans or gave back to the hurricane relief organization that found us housing and helped us with the furniture. But you'd be amazed how much was left- all the stuff we brought, the things people sent us and all the things we bought that we could use back home- staggering.
We rented a cargo van and drove to a trucking terminal and loaded it into a container to be trucked to a terminal in New Orleans where we will have to go and unload it and get it back to my mom's. This cost us $525 and was cheaper than renting a truck and towing the car. But, we didn't pack everything we needed to pack and had more than could fit in the car. So, we gave more away and sent the rest home via UPS. Virtually every cubic inch of the car is packed and we can barely squeezed into it. We have about 20 hours of highway to which to look forward in my 12 year-old car that burns oil. I've got a spare 3 quarts in the trunk but I'm not sure if I can get to it with all the stuff back there. So, say a little prayer for us.
So, as we end this exile and this unforgettable chapter of our lives with our return to Chocolate City, (whatever it is or will be, it's certainly not Big or Easy anymore), I offer you this working list of things I will/will not/have/have not miss(ed)...
Things I Will Miss About Virginia: (in no particular order)
- Looking out of the window and seeing the Blue Ridge Mountains in the distance.
- Slopes and hills instead of endless flatness.
- Having enough trees around the place I live to make me feel like I'm near surrounded by nature without the idea scaring me.
- Seasons that change.
- Fall colors.
- All the flowers that grow here but can't be grown in N.O. because of the heat.
- Seeing wild deer grazing here and there.
- Being 2 hours from Washington D.C.
- Living in a city that has an Ethiopian restaurant.
- Being able to be the musician I am rather than being first known as the wife/ex-wife or girlfriend of a musician, and for that reason, being easily dismissed as such.
- Snow days (off).
- Sunrises and sunsets like the ones I photographed and will post once I'm home and have a computer with internet access again.
- Living at elevation that's not preceded by a negative sign.
- Being in 20 minutes from the Blue Ridge Mountains.
- Seeing rock outcrops on the side of the highway. Actual rock.
- Being able to drink the tap water without worrying about heavy metal poisoning.
- Excellent public schools.
- Little rocky babbling streams all over the place.
- Hearing service employees say, "thanks and have a nice day," after a transaction and it sounds like they sincerely mean it.
- Being able to leave little dinky things in plain view in my car (like a cell phone charger or an umbrella) without having to worry about someone breaking the window to steal it.
- A socially conscious community that walks the talk and where people set up charities to actually help others without skimming the donations for themselves.
- A well-managed state and local government where corruption isn't the accepted norm.
- Lots of really kind and genuine people.
- Being able to drive for miles and miles without ever hitting a pot hole.
- A place to live that has real, functional closets!
- The master bedroom suite and the big roman bath tub.
- Having a working fireplace in the house and easy access to wood.
- Not having seen a cockroach in months. (It's the most consistently uttered benefit of living here that I've heard from all the other Katrina exiles I've met, as well.)
- Going outside without being eaten alive by mosquitoes.
- Low humidity and all the stars you can see at night when there's not excessive moisture hanging in the air.
- Needing to drive only 5 minutes to find places dark enough to see constellations, "falling stars" and the the Milky Way streaked across the night sky.
- Having a month of temperatures hovering between 17 and 40 degrees and getting a utility bill for only $200. (An energy-efficient place to live.)
- Food stamps and Medicaid- but they were temporary anyway.
- The giant recycling center.
- The idea of a house with a basement. (Forget those in N.O.)
- People who actually use their turn-signals and don't drive slow in the left lane.
- Having a grocery store in my neighborhood.
- The handful of friends I made here.
Things I Will Not Miss About Virginia (in no particular order)
- The high cost of living. (Because this city always lands on those "Best Places to Live in The U.S. lists.)
- Worrying about hitting a deer on the highway.
- Living in a place with wall to wall carpeting.
- The electric stove!##&$%@!!@!!!
- Big Spiders
- The tiny kitchen with no counter space.
- The House Centipede- they're disgusting and can run as fast as a cockroach, but cockroaches still creep me out more.
- Being in a hurry and having to scrape ice off the windshield while waiting for the car to warm up before I can leave. (Okay- scraping the ice was kind of neat, but it would have gotten old.)
- Walking Rachel to the bus stop when it's 18 degrees outside.
- Having someone living above and beside me. (Well, no one did, but someone surely would have moved in if we'd stayed.)
- Electric outlets in places that serve no purpose other than to be eyesores.
- What feels like a more segregated community. (Where are the black people?)
- No urban landscape.
- Having to stop for pedestrians in a crosswalk. (I can never remember that I'm supposed to do this and surprised when people stop for me. I'd rather they not do it. New Orleans is an every-pedestrian-for-him/herself-type city. And I'm fine with that.)
- Being so far away from my family and friends.
- Black people. (They're harder to find than we imagined. )
- My diverse neighborhood. (Like most of the city.)
- The architecture!
- Being able to be the 5th or 6th car to go through after the traffic light turns yellow.
- King Cake (but there's still time...)
- Popeye's Fried Chicken. (I rarely eat it, but I like the idea that it's there if I want it.)
- The music scene.
- Cooking with gas.
- Mom's cooking and company.
- My students and my university.
- The bohemian scene and music in the Faubourgh Marigny. (A neighborhood.)
- The chance appearance of a brass-band second-line (jazz funeral) rolling past my house on its way from the church down the street to the cemetery up the street.
- The sound of the streetcar passing on Carrollton Ave.
- Living in a neighborhood where a short walk takes me past pleasing architecture to coffee shops, restaurants, a park, the river, and lots of other cool places.
- The sound of riverboat fog-horns.
- Beignets. (I actually craved them while I was here.)
- My front porch swing.
- My cool neighbors.
- Cannolis and cappuccino from Broccato's and pizza from Figaro's.
- Mom's black-eyed peas and Lebanese cabbage rolls on New Years Day.
- A dependable internet connection.
- Family and friends.
- The indelible spirit, sense of humor and creativity of my city.
Things I Didn't Miss About New Orleans: (the first three tie for #1, the rest, in no particular order.)
- POTHOLES everywhere! The bane of my car's existence.
- Unrelenting humidity.
- The violent crime.
- Parking meters and metermaids.
- Trash on the street and sidewalk around my house thrown by neighbors walking from the corner store one block over.
- Overgrown grass and weeds on the neutral ground, as we say, or "median," as the rest of you would say.
- Having to get my own grass cut.
- Being overwhelmed with things to do. (Okay- maybe I did miss this a little, as being busy energizes and motivates me.)
I'll check back in tomorrow if the next yucky motel also has free wi-fi, and if not, as soon as I can...