New Orleans with Rebecca

Rebecca and I got dropped of directly in front of my friend Heather's cafe in New Orleans, we'd spent the past three days hitchhiking there from Savannah where we'd met in person for the first time. I have several friends living in New Orleans, but Heather was the one who'd introduced to the city some years ago. She was going to school there and looking to hitch back after a break in Connecticut with a friend of hers, but when her friend broke her leg she went online searching for an alternative and found me, a willing hitchhiking partner. I was actually aiming for Alaska at the time, but figured New Orleans was west, at least, and now I can't argue that it's undeniably on the way to Alaska.

She was popping with energy as always, a firefly in a pinball, setting us up with coffee as she told her stories of the cafe goings on and her recent running around the city catering to wealthy folks in town for jazz fest as their sort of personal chauffeur and assistant. Always moving, always busy, happy and skipping.

Soon I got in touch with my friends Daisy and Paul who said we could stay with them while we were in town. Daisy and I met while both crashing at our good friends apartment back in Queens, she'd eventually met Paul, they hit it off and eventually moved down to New Orleans together.

They picked up Rebecca and I at the cafe and we cruised on back to their place. After an amazing and much needed shower we all got to catching up and getting through many cans of beer. By late night only Paul and I remained talking passionately about all sorts of things, making a run to the store for more beer and carrying on a while longer until sleep had to come. I crawled up to the office where Rebecca was already passed out on the giant air mattress they'd blown up for us, quickly joining her in needed slumber.

We woke up to the relaxing patter and distant boom of a thunderstorm, the stage was set for the variable flow of rain that would come and go for our whole time in town. After a coffee we set out into it, which soon cleared up enough to stay mostly dry. Over to and up Canal, across Bourbon and down towards Jackson Square in the thick of it.

After a day of wandering and so forth we headed halfway back to Daisy and Paul's place to their friend's house where they were having a BBQ with mimosas and the rest of it. By the time we left the rain was coming back down pretty fierce, we hoofed back to the house arriving fairly soaked. Daisy and Paul braved back into it for a beer run and we spent the night chatting again.

By the end of the night I was laying next to Rebecca on the air mattress as the rain still splashed outside. We'd been literally pressed up and tangled together for hours at a time, night after night, forced into each other's sweat to avoid mosquitoes while camped in my cramped bivy sack, engaged in conversation that ranged from flirty to inspiring to confessional - all this as we'd tumbled together down the road propelled solely by the bond that brought us together, an understanding that adventure comes to those who jump.

I'd gone as far as I could go without jumping again, physically backed up and mentally scathing myself from all tenses of time for not embracing the obvious. I sensed something that felt like guilt that was staged to creep in if I stewed for another moment in this denial of desire. At last I leapt in before the entire train of thought could consume anymore of my time.

By the morning we had enjoyed each other properly, both satisfied as we made the move downstairs for coffee. We'd end up in town for about a week all together, traversing through fits of rain in between jambalaya, writing sessions at Byrdie's, beers here and there and general wandering.

One of the mornings I went to step outside and discovered we'd been accidentally locked in from the outside.

"We've been Rebeccaed!", I shouted up the stairs. She came down as I stood shaking the door, not believing me at first. A week ago in Savannah she was staying with someone who'd accidentally done the same thing, locking her inside his place for nine hours because of a poorly designed door that could allow such things.

We couldn't help but laugh, but luckily there was a window in this case without too much of a fall to the ground that we could escape out of. That particular day we made our way to the Quarter again just as the rain came down as heavy as it had all week. We ducked into Cafe Du Monde for beignets and coffee to wait out the storm.

Later that night after we'd eased in back at the house Rebecca was wanting to go on a walk. I guided us towards a bar that I knew about, but we somehow looped our way back towards the Quarter and picked up a six pack on the way. We went down to the water first, then up to Bourbon street so she could see it at night for once.

My initial reaction was that it was pretty dead, having seen it during times like when they won the Superbowl and around Mardi Gras, but "dead" for Bourbon street was alive enough to put a smile on Rebecca's face as she used the phrase "culture shocked" over and over to describe the scene of scantily dressed strippers hanging by doorways to entice the general population of happy bead wearing drunks marching along the equally bead wearing stoned ground.

We made a couple passes up and down in, then off into the side streets nearby where Rebecca hoped to find a place to pee. We instead found a guy calling himself Blaine Barefoot handling a harmonica in one hand, and either a cigarette or a can of beer in the other as he talked to his sole audience member. We joined in while he jawed along, at last putting the harmonica to his lips to let out a song for us.

Back to Bourbon one more time, strolling along and babbling with the odd drunk, then finally meandering back to the house. We stayed up on the porch a while talking New Orleans and sex and making laps around the block for Rebecca to snipe any discarded cigarette butts to smoke, all the while sipping cheap beer further fueling some sort of late night passion that had bubbled up.

More days of this, more New Orleans food (the muffaletta sandwich comes to mind) and we were well past ready to move on. It had taken all of the week to finally clear up into a cloudless day, we were poised to jump on the opportunity and start hitchhiking again, Memphis was our next destination.

April 27, 2013 to May 4, 2013