A drop of sweat rolls slowly down my spine but I almost don't feel it. I am sitting perfectly still and have been for ten minutes and yet I am still sweating more than I am comfortable with. There is a pleasant breeze blowing in off the Mississippi which is behind me just past Jackson square, but the cool air off the water is only a temporary relief to the humid heat that makes everyone glisten with sweat at all times.
The bells of Saint Louis Cathedral are tolling overhead as parishioners slowly file out the front doors. They stop to say a word or two to the members of the clergy standing in their bright green robes just in front of the heavy iron gates. Tourists are milling about snapping pictures of everything. Pigeons are everywhere waiting for any bits of food that they can scavenge up.
As the tones of the bells start to just fade from the air their heavy clear tone is replaced by the sound of a trumpet. I have been watching as one by one men with large sousaphones, trombones, and drums have been ambling into the square. They have casually chatted and greeted each other and a number of people milling about with smiles and hugs. They seem an unlikely group. As the trumpet starts to play though they all fall in line and before I really know what is happening there is a brass band playing in front of me.
How very New Orleans.
48 hours earlier...
Work, and life, has been very stressful lately. This has been true for both myself and the husbeast. To say we are worn thin is an understatement. My edges have begun to fray and it is clear for all to see. I've known for a while that we need to get away from everything but it just didn't seem that easy.
We are always full up with commitments . There is always someplace we need to be or something we need to be doing. For example this weekend we need to be grouting the shower and putting the fixtures in so the great bathroom project of doom is finally done. We have several pending social requests that we should see to as well. Things that need to be done.
I am also a planner. I never just up and go anywhere. There is always at least a few weeks of planning to take a trip. There are so many details to arrange from clearing our schedules, to adjusting finances, to lining up someone to watch the animals, it all just takes a little time. Time of which I never seemed to have.
My new coworker who is attempting to train me for a new position came by my desk just as I finished paying my bills. She dropped off a list of mostly confusing instructions to do some tasks that I was not particularly thrilled about doing.
I decided to postpone starting the project by making a shopping and to do list for the weekend. The first thing I put on the list was grout. The bathroom project of doom is so close to being done, but I have reached the point where the thought of doing anymore work on it makes me a little sick. The word grout means 'almost done', but all I see in my mind is more hot laborious tedious work.
The corner of my right eye begins to twitch. It has been doing this a lot lately. Just a tiny little tick. It could mean that I am not getting enough potassium in my diet, but it always seems to pop up when the stress is building too much. Like I said, a lot of eye twitching lately.
I texted the husbeast:
Me: Run away with me?
Husbeast: Where we going? We can make it anywhere as long as I have you to hold me.
Me: Pick a city. Seattle, Chicago, New York, DC, Philadelphia, New Orleans, anywhere. The beach, the mountains, anywhere that doesn't require a passport.
Husbeast: Somewhere old. Going forever or for now?
Me: For now.
He didn't respond for a few minutes so I figured he had to go back to a sale. He would be too busy to answer anymore of my probing questions about escaping our lives for a few days. I would have to day dream alone. I felt a little like Walter Mitty.
My coworker came by again interrupting pleasant delusions of being far from where I was to give me some new contradicting instructions about the project I was dutifully ignoring. I could feel the frustration in me growing. My eye twitched again until I had to press my index finger to the corner to try and make it stop.
I opened up a new browser and pulled up Southwest airlines and began to look at flights while looking at hotels in a separate window. Someplace old he said. Two days was all we had. I didn't want to spend most of our time in an airport and on airplanes so my search window began narrowing. The east coast was completely out, and being practical so was the west coast. There was a lot of country left to look at, but in my heart I knew the answer.
I left work early. I grabbed some Sonic and drove to his office and sat in the parking lot waiting for him to come out and retrieve his lunch. I sipped on my milkshake, a giddy laugh poised on my lips. I suddenly felt so incredibly light an free.
When his face popped out the side door to his building I went practically skipping across the parking lot. He smiled at me looking more than a little confused as I handed over a paper sack full of fried food and a cherry limeade big enough to drown in.
"Here's your lunch, our flight leaves at 7:20 tonight." was all I said before I planted a kiss on his cheek and started to leave.
"Our what?!" was his incredibly eloquent response.
"Our flight." I repeated.
"What flight? Where are we going? Are we going to be flapping our arms or something?" He was just staring at me in shock. One of his coworkers that was sitting nearby smoking began to giggle at the exchange.
I pointed at his shirt which proudly displayed a Fleur de Lys behind the words New Orleans Saints.
"We are going to New Orleans? You've gone crazy finally haven't you?"
I smiled and nodded. I think maybe I had but I didn't care because I felt so happy at the thought of escaping nothing else mattered.
I sent him texts all afternoon as I packed and puttered around the house. His general responses were to ask me if I was alright and if I was insane. I was a little put out that he didn't seem as excited as I was, but I just figured he was in shock still and once we got there he would be much better.
We sat in the airport later that evening waiting on our twice delayed flight and he still didn't seem to believe it. He was switching between telling me I was crazy and saying he was excited we were going. Mostly he was just dreading the takeoff for the flight. He hates take offs and landings. I was still giggling to myself.
Our Haitian cabby was very talkative, chatting on about the Saints (who were playing as we drove past the Superdome) as we drove from the airport to the little B&B I had found on the edges of the French Quarter. The husbeast looked at the address dubiously. He asked what end of Espalanda this place was located, because at one end I would be very uncomfortable with the neighborhood. I shrugged not really knowing. I hadn't really looked beyond the Expedia rating and the words "French Quarter" in the location.
As we stood on the porch of a beautiful post civil war era house, flags waving between the columns that held the balcony up, all thoughts about what kind of neighborhood it was seemed to slip from our minds. This place was beautiful.
An unassuming Austrian gentlemen answered the door and welcomed us in. Akko, his dog, was there to welcome us as well with happy tail wagging and hand lickings. It was almost 10 o'clock so the house was dark and quiet.
I had reserved the room with the only king bed in it. Up the stairs and down the hall he pulled out a ring of keys and let us into our rooms, flipping on the chandelier overhead. Our room was actually a suite. There was a sitting room with a fireplace and a crystal chandelier attached to the bedroom which also had a fireplace and a huge antique bed. Our bathroom had a claw-foot tub that was large enough that even the husbeast could comfortably settle into it.
Then our host walked to the front of the sitting room and gave a set of double doors a gentle pull. Our suite was at the front of the house which meant the front balcony was ours. The humid New Orleans
night air surrounded us as we stepped out onto our balcony to take in the view.
I looked up at the husbeast and couldn't help but to smile at his face. All the shock seemed to be washing away as he stood there looking out from our balcony at what was unmistakably a New Orleans view. It was a look of excitement, a look of relief, and a look that one can only have when coming home after too long away.
Our adventure was just beginning.