Back in the City

I had a weekend in Ketchikan, helping Deanna with medical stuff. This meant a long ferry ride and hanging out for a few days. I turned around and got on an Island Air flight, on which I knew everyone. Despite a mechanical, we were the only flight of the day to make it into Ketchikan ahead of a big winter storm. It was a long layover in Seattle. The airport is being remodeled, and Anthony’s, the big restaurant that was a go-to spot, is no more. They haven’t quite replaced it yet, so this may be the only airport in America with not enough bar space.

I made it into New Orleans, and a chatty cab driver welcomed back as a resident rather than a tourist. As we drove through the the Treme, she remarked about how quiet it was as compared to pre-Katrina when everyone would be out on their porches, cooking and eating and drinking all the time. The water didn’t come until after the hurricane left, and everyone was partying in the street, celebrating the end of the hurricane when things got bad. The neighborhood is like a ghost of itself. She talked politics and road construction, and stayed as I fumbled with the lock box. I wasn’t able to open it or the new gate lock, but the other gate was open and I was able to squirm along the side of the house in the dark to the courtyard. A tree had come down in the walkway, but it only snagged my luggage. The condo looked clean and nice when I got in, and I’m ready to unpack.

As I type at Envie, it’s a strange feeling to be familiar with the place but not yet a regular. The staff has turned over, and there are a few faces I remember but a bunch of new people mixed in with the tourists. It is fun to walk through the French Quarter as home, even with the gap of months away. I’m looking forward to reconnecting with friends as the week goes on, with Halloween weekend and football coming right up.

After the first disorienting hours, based mostly on the long travel, things are falling into place. I walked up to the Robert’s to stock the house and ran into Jamie Ruth, my tattoo artist, and saw a few familiar faces. Susie arrived back in town for a few days, and got the condo association together, or at least Susie, Vince, Tayja, Kristen and Susie’s handyman, Tim. we toured the Johnnie White’s establishments on Bourbon and St. Peter, and then on to Harry’s Corner and Buffa’s. A pub crawl on the first night back was just the ticket.

I spent the afternoon with Jamie Ruth, and added a bunch of color to my chest and tied the sleeves into the chest pieces. I swore I wouldn’t get tattooed in the armpit again, but it was hard to say which was worse-nipple, collarbone or armpit. The first hour is kind of mellow and relaxing, and it is downhill from there. After hour three or so, everything hurts and I just don’t want to sit any more. We pumped a lot of color, but it was time to quit.

The shop was busy, with four artists going at once. The house phone rang, and apparently somebody asked about piercing. Walter, a 50-something biker looking guy with neck tattoos, not inappropriate for a tattoo artist, told the woman on the other end in a whiskey and cigarettes voice, “Sorry, we don’t pierce, we only penetrate.” It was a short conversation.

I met with Chris for a sandwich at Buffa’s in a huge rainstorm, the remnants of Olga, hopefully the last of the tropical storms. It is still the shoulder season for hurricanes but hopefully the weather will turn for good in the next couple of weeks. I headed for home and saw a twenty-something woman walking up the street in the downpour, dressed in tall rubber boots, jeans shorts, and a t-shirt. She saw me pull out my keys, and asked if I had a car or house nearby, complaining that she was cold. I walked away because you can’t save the world, but she was definitely not in place she wanted to be.

Baseball and tattoo recovery occupied the rest of the rainy night, and the desire to hear live music did not override common sense this time.

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