Flashback: 2010, New York City. Yours truly was sitting in an apartment I hated, in a part of Manhattan I felt no affinity for, age sixty-five, no full-time job and no prospects for the future. No idea how to get out of this place. State of mind: black. The future: visions of riding the subway all through the night, disheveled, pee-stained trousers, discovered by my daughter as she gets on with some friends.
Read an ad for a one-year visiting professor job in English at the University of New Orleans. Applied. Why not? By this time, it’s all rote anyway.
A week or so later, got a call from the chair of the English Department at UNO. Chair wanted set up a phone interview with himself and his colleagues.
Another week later, after said interview, I was offered the job.
Huh? Pick up and go? Never having been to New Orleans. No place to live. And have to begin teaching in three weeks. Remember: only a one-year appointment. Then what?
Who knows? But I do know one thing: sitting in that room in upper Manhattan one year from now would make me up my anti-depressant dose twenty fold.
I said yes.
Packed my car (this is the shortened version), got in, and went.
Three days, three overnight stops and 1350 miles later, I arrived in New Orleans, not knowing a solitary soul. I pulled my car up to 729 Ursulines in the French Quarter where I would live that first year in a furnished apartment. I had found the place on the fly.
But I was feeling like I’d shed fifteen years. I was alert, scared, charged, and suffused with wonder. No idea what was ahead. But I knew one incontrovertible fact.
It would all be new. And I was through with that dingy apartment in New York City.
I was on my way to reinventing myself.