I’ve been dreaming of going to New Orleans for nearly twenty years now. Since the day Stephanie Mechura came back from there with a fabulous new song called Slidell…and a pocketful of breath-stealing stories about The Big Easy. It amazes me that I’ve let life trick me into not getting there sooner. Cause Stephanie’s stories sent a whole lotta folks scrambling for their wallets and heading lickity-split out to the nearest airport.
I want to go to New Orleans now for all the reasons I’ve built up over all the years in between. Because I want my tourist dollars to help that beautiful old belle of the south get back on her feet. Because that’s the city Harry Connick Jr. sings about, and dedicated a whole tour to and helped rebuild. Because…well, I’ve only got five hundred words, and I could go on for days.
I want very badly to go to the GayRomLit retreat. Because for the two years in a row that I struggled with recovering from two separate spinal surgeries, and all the depression that came with losing my ability to work as a nurse, and the inevitable weight gain, and the just plain meh-ness of not being able to pay enough attention to my daughter because I was in too much pain, or too sad…during all of that there were these wonderful, incredible people who told me stories. Stories that made me laugh, and gave me hope.
I want to thank those authors in person. Because not only did they make those dark days bearable…they gave me hope and purpose again. So I can’t work as a nurse? So what! So the surgeries messed up my singing voice a bit? So what! I can still use my nursing knowledge to enrich the stories I now write. I can still write songs into the stories I now write. I want to look those authors who wrote the stories that, well, hokey as it sounds, saved me, in their eyes and thank them. I want to meet face to face the people I met on their chat groups who encouraged me to find a new dream and reach for it.
And hey…it’s New Orleans. I want to eat beignets, drink chicory laced coffee and ogle cute boys and girls. I want to party. Cause life is a celebration. I want to celebrate. So I’m hoping I’ll win. Ethel Ann (my ’98 GMC Jimmy) may not make it if I have to drive, and NO is a long-ass walk from Buffalo, NY.But regardless, win or lose, I’ll be there. I’ll be the one in bright red lipstick, big silver hoop earrings and a smile bigger than Louis Armstrong’s. Hope to see you there.