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You Aren’t in Kansas Anymore

July 14, 2012
Cross Country Drive

Two weeks ago I drove from New Orleans to Wichita, then up to I-90, and across South Dakota, Wyoming, Montana and Washington. Don’t tell my mom, but I took this photo with my cell phone while driving. The landscape of the drive was mouth watering.

I grew up in Kansas, and any time I’ve lived anywhere else, people loooove to say, “You aren’t in Kansas anymore!” Clearly. I like to think of the adage as more of a you-aren’t-in-your-familiar-zone anymore.

I’m not in Kansas. I’m not in New Orleans. I’m in Washington, people.

I know I’m not in New Orleans because all my neighbors have teeth and don’t come over unannounced at midnight in a short robe to get a little nip of whiskey. The sun is shining but it’s only 80 degrees. In July. And it’s the warmest day yet. I’m shivering in a sweater. I am used to the Julys where your hair never dries, and sweat drips down your back walking from the front door to the sidewalk. Ah, humidity, is it weird to say I miss you?

I know I’m not in New Orleans because I’m the only one in an orange jump suit on a Friday night. No one is wearing Saints gear out of season, there aren’t any Mardi Gras flags left up all year. The grocery store entrances don’t have 20 gallon coolers filled with $2.49 boiled crawfish. Oh, and it’s boiled up here, not berled. A friend wants to have a crab boil. I could hardly understand his proper English. I asked if they had Zatarain’s.

Zatarain’s?

Oh no.

There are no brass bands on the street corners. There are no Sunday parades. I was mourning Uncle Lionel’s passing and aching to join in the Second Line, watching friends celebrate his life through photos and videos on Facebook. Last night over drinks with friends I spent about 10 minutes trying to explain New Orleans social underbelly and Krewes and MOM’s Ball and what Carnival season is really about and why I cannot cannot cannot miss Mardi Gras. Blank stares. I’m definitely not in New Orleans anymore.

My sweet special-man-friend thinks I hate it here. It might be because I said in a fit of rage, “I hate it here.” Of course I don’t hate it, it’s just not New Orleans. I love being in the same zip code as my previously long distance relationship. What a relief to stop living the 19-days-until-I-see-you-again life. I love seeing the pink sunsets and mountains out the front window. I love living 2 blocks from the Sound and not needing to lock my doors and not hearing gun shots at night. It’s peaceful here, it’s calm, the school buildings are all so clean and nice and well kept. It’s America! I spend my days of summer vacation working in the yard and in my sewing room, cooking healthy dinners and going to bed when the sun goes down. Who am I?

I will do this, this sort of wonderful suffering, for love. And I won’t even be that mad about it. But deep in my heart, buried under the true love stuff, I am wearing sequins and dreaming of the faint sound of a brass band beckoning me to fall in behind.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. July 14, 2012 8:42 pm

    beautiful picture.
    interesting to hear about the culture shock. i love your writing.
    congrats on the new location, being with your man, and enjoying your summer doing less-dangerous hobbies :)

  2. Betty Mantz permalink
    July 15, 2012 12:44 am

    Oh sugar. I hear you loud and clear.

  3. July 16, 2012 1:17 pm

    Welcome to the Pacific NW! This place just might be the closest thing to the opposite of New Orleans. It’s a little “different” up here too.

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