Gather Ye Rosebuds / August 2013
Yours Truly in a Swamp
And this same flower that smiles today
Tomorrow will be dying.
On July 4th this year, L. A. Norma gave us a large American flag. With Mardi Gras beads laced round the handlebars we fastened it to Featherbike. It fluttered briefly, then fell off. This moment ushered in our full-blown geezerdom.
Photocredit: Melanie Plesh
"A long life gives a special reward," I said, "knowing how our dreams turn out while still dreaming them."
Chuck Johnson went to Ullin, Illinois (my hometown), and photographed things like Porky's, my Father's long abandoned nightclub; the Village population sign (800); and the flashing yellow cautionary light at the Village crossroads. I read at its dedication before Chuck was born, fifty-something years ago. This is where first I saw those old men on colorful bicycles. We pitied them their lack of gas guzzling with-it-ness. Now here we be.
"If Life ain't the big trip!" Norma said, guzzling from a silver flask between puffs of smoke, "what would be?"
L. E. J. at Seventy
photocredit: Frank Parsley
Chuck stood in front of each icon, camera poised, thinking of me. Then he put those thoughts inside a Birthday card. At Seventy, there have been no more loving moments than this one. Thank you.
Katrina Day, the day that changed
everything. In conversation with a younger writer who rented Squalor Heights, my former Faubourg Marigny garret where I watched ships smoking round Algiers Point -- a sight from which much yarn was spun -- asked, "How could you stay," he asked, "in Lafayette? Leave New Orleans..."
"Well, I didn't leave it all together. Besides, I had been a Seafarer often away for months on end."
"Be a New Orleanian where ever you are,"
reads a sticker we still see eight years after Katrina. We see it stuck on mirrors, bicycle fenders, and bar-tops. In cities and towns near and far.
We took an apartment in Lafayette, around the corner from the Rosa Parks Transportation Centre. Every month or two, we ride Amtrak's aptly named Sunset Limited to and from Big Swamp City.
In New Orleans,
this year on Bastille Day, I successfully defended my Second Place Sash in the Hemingway Look-Alike Contest.
We listened to songs sung, music played, stories crafted, and jokes well told sitting atop a bar stool at Muses on Frenchmen Street looking, we thought, like Hemingway in A Movable Feast. All writers want to look like Hemingway as he saw Himself. But writers all lie, so don't bother asking one how they feel about this. Third Place was won by a woman sporting a fake mustache. See!
Each contender to the Sash was asked to say something describing our relation to Hemingway. I offered that when Hemmingway was my age he had been dead for ten years.
In eight years, we said then, we will be Seventy, old anyway you count it.
That day has arrived. And we could not be happier for it. Norma and I stepped off the train in Lafayette, and climbed aboard a pedicab arranged by cellphone to carry us up Boulevard Jefferson to Pamplona Tapas Bar, in time for happy-hours of white wine and hot-buttered snails!