The Ides of August, 2010. First days in New Orleans, having moved precipitously from New York City to take a one-year job teaching at the University of New Orleans.
Unloading my small Ford Focus, crammed to the hilt. Moving into a furnished apartment at 729 Ursulines between Bourbon Street and Royal Street in the French Quarter.
The French Quarter?
Yes, certainly, had heard of the French Quarter, as everyone has. “Streetcar” and all that.
But, other than Stanley’s house in a movie, knew nothing. Zero. Zip.
Boy, it’s hot. Is this a joke? It must be a joke. The knee-on-the-neck heat surely is a joke. Tomorrow, it’ll be civilized, prank over.
(It’s no joke.)
Wandering around the streets I begin to see: Every single thing about this place is different. I am a guy who lived in New York City for 35 years and suddenly I’m in a sovereign country where the only resemblance to my former city is that they both contain the word “New.” Alert eyes and ears and everything else as I absorb it all, or try to.
The Chair at the University of New Orleans had advised over the phone, “Don’t live in the French Quarter. Too expensive, impossible to find a parking space.”
But the realtor who handed me the keys to my apartment at 729 Ursulines asked,
“Now, what do you do?”
“I’m a writer.”
“Oh. Well. Then you must live in the Quarter.”
Yes. And, for a New Yorker used to epic parking battles on the streets every other day, parking here?
A piece. Of. Cake.
To be continued.