Having to actually reference a calendar now; time’s moving so weirdly. But, yeah, it was on Saturday, March 14 (only five days ago!) that I was slow-walking through New Orleans and saw a coffeehouse called Mojo Coffee. I’d already had a cup down the block, but there was a charm to the place and with about two hours to kill before driving outta town, I sat down and watched people walk up-and-down Magazine Street, one of the great avenues in all of the US.
As cliche as it might be (there’ve been songs written about this particular feeling in this particular city for a reason), I caught myself wiping away a couple tears. It struck me hard that I might not be through town for a while. On my seventh run there since 2017, I was on a mission to not repeat much of anything this time ‘round and I’d done a pretty great job of not falling into habits, of not repeating visits to the handful of places that’d become my go-to’s while there. Instead, I made a very specific point to find new favorites, almost all of them south and west of the Quarter.
But back to wiping those tears… ‘cause hands and eyes and…
By the final day of a four-day trip, the news about Covid-19 was changing rapidly, though this was a discombobulating city in which to read the news. Throughout the city, I was one of a bajillion ants, all of us bouncing against one another on our individual, disjointed journeys. Though not partying even remotely hard, I was still finding myself in one restaurant after another, one bar after another, spotting in some museums and other attractions along the way. All the while, the news was suggesting that the next few weeks were going to be bumpy as hell. I was still in a bit of disbelief, though washing my hands a bit more professionally every day. It was almost a relief, then, to make the trip back home, taking time out a side trip for an oysteriffic lunch with a friend in Mississippi. By that point, even our quick hug goodbye felt… odd. Strange. New. Different. Concerning? Worrying? If I wasn’t taking things seriously before, by the time I’d hit the one-and-only Dupre Cafe of McComb, MS, my nerves were starting to feel the increased seriousness of this.
If that wasn’t enough to jab the emotions, the other thing registering with me in New Orleans was the fact that I’d be going back to a job, offered and accepted through a respected St. Louis brew pub and restaurant. With a half-day of training done just prior to my southern trip, I’d felt a distinct idea that I was under-qualified for the job, by the unofficial count of A Lot. Trying to stay positive, I tried to squash that feeling but it flooded over me when back for the official first day.
I didn’t make it through it, handing back my keys to the GM with apologies, no small bit of embarrassment, a distinct sense that I must’ve been hearing about a different job than the one offered and the overall, grating feeling that A Smarter Person would hang onto the salaried gig for the next week, or two, see where things were leading. Maybe the bar/restaurant wouldn’t even be open in a week, due to the crisis, but if I took a pass on things at that second, I’d be playing a really dumb, honor-based game on the eve of a pandemic and possible recession. Of course, I passed. Dumb. Yes. Honorable? Nah. Just dumb.
Three days later, my primary writing gig in St. Louis ceased to be a print publication and, most likely, a paying publication for now (and probably for a while). Though not sitting at the core of my money-making, it was nice to bring in $250-500 a month from a gig that was relatively low-stress and mostly-creative. Sigh. It’s been a week.
But it’s been a week for a lot of folks. And things could be way worse for me. Thanks to a kind pre-inheritance from family a year back, selling my partial share of a business and a late-in-life tendency towards saving, I’m okay for now and have an option for work coming post-shutdown. For the moment, I’m content to lay low, take walks, think, read. And, within the next 48-hours, I’ll either undertake a longstanding blog idea or I won’t. That’ll be my tiny challenge for the day.
Having taken about three-hours to finish this, I’m not sure that decision-making’s my strong suit at the moment, nor is completing, you know, things. But I’m gonna hit “publish” on this. By today’s standards, let’s call that a win.