If the theme of the great New York City pass-through of ’01 was exploration and discovery, then its spiritual sequel was predicated on varying degrees of loss, self-loathing and blunt-ended escapism. Somewhere in the middle of watching my seedling marriage to Jynx hit a terminal state, discovering new lows of depression and anxiety and steering my status as a 28-year-old college freshman into a ditch of academic probation, I somehow managed to find the time to convince myself that what I really needed was to take part in a life-affirming bug-out to some new and thrilling part of the globe. Never mind that I was an emotional wreck—held together only by new medications, safety pins, and the patience of my mother in playing switchboard to the tear-sodden, rage-stuffed calls that she was receiving from both myself and J—or that my psychological quirks had only worsened since moving to Floptown… no, none of that had any traction on this decision. It was, in fact, going to be a declaration of defiance in the face of everything that I realized was wrong, and the start of scraping my life back together into something resembling a solid state.
All I needed was a destination. A place that would fly in the face of the fearful, sucked-up nature of my person that would challenge me to meet it— unflinching-like—on its own terms.
And that’s how I wound up planning a trip to New Orleans in the last weeks of July, 2005.
If you happened to read this, then you’re no doubt beginning to see a pattern affecting itself within the murky sludge of my prose: that—for someone who claims to be so racked with various compulsions and agoraphobic tendencies—I’ve sure come close to finding myself in some pretty serious shit-straits, in the rare times that I tried the travel bit in the past. We missed 9/11 by two months, and the Chocolate City that I came to embrace in a passionate bro-hug during my first trip there was nearly swept into the oblivion of the Gulf Coast waters less than three weeks after we left.
As such, the natural foregone conclusion would probably be that this contributed to my various paranoias and hang-ups about leaving the state (On some days, it’s tough enough to get the hell out of the front door), but odd as it might sound, these situations didn’t even put a scratch in the veneer of the more illogical stuff. I may still have to fence off panic attacks when a plane takes off—silently going through the over-under of whether or not this will finally be the plane ride during which I have a stroke, and die before we can flip our course and find somewhere to land—but the apparent theme of being totally obliterated during a vacation doesn’t even register. I can’t make hash out of why this is, but it reminds me that the braincase is a strange, strange place to play and work.
But anyway. Skip this record back, a few grooves: this was how I wound up going to New Orleans in the last weeks of July, 2005.
Naturally, I was too gutless to make this trip by myself. Despite all of my hem-haw and high-hat preachiness about needing to find “breathing room,” I was way too much of a chickenshit to pull the trigger on such a trip in a solo sense. Instead, I managed to co-opt the participation of the one person who didn’t have a built-in out for coming along, whose involvement I could happily chalk up to re-affirming family ties while alternately playing down the fact that I had no friends in Floptown.
That person, of course, was Exene. My sister.
Another disclaimer, on the quick: while it certainly seems like any relatively recent travel-related post seems to imply that Exene and I—as the self-professed “Hauser Export Project’s” participants, a fist-face variation on the Crosby/Hope paradigm—are joined at the hip for any and all expeditions into the wilds of the world, this was not the case seven years ago.
In fact, we were still very much in the middle of some misshapen adolescent trip, wherein we’d routinely get into blood-letting fights over the most trivial of shits: for the sake of the record, she’s owed a huge debt for even taking that phone call, let alone agreeing to support the sloppy, sag-hearted sack of self-hatred and sobbery that she’d find herself bunking up with for the next ten days.
So, in bringing our bean-count up to currency: this is how my nineteen-year-old sister and I wound up going to New Orleans in the last weeks of July, 2005. On a chicken wing and a prayer, for no particularly profound reason of soul or self… and without the slightest flippin’ clue as to what was waiting for us.