Started the holiday weekend with a series of exceedingly bummed out phone calls from my son, whose Kerouackian dream of motorcycling from Houston to Orlando was rudely interrupted by technical difficulties. Note for future ref: motorcycle repairmen spend holiday weekends living the Kerouackian dream. Kerouac did not carry a beeper. After working the computer and phones for a few hours, Gary and I headed over to Baton Rouge to truck boy and bike back to Florida.
I've been making that drive along I-10 at least four or five times a year since my kids were small, and there's much to love about it. The lumpy bumpy roads make your voice wobble when you sing "100 Bottles of Beer on the Wall". Sometimes you see alligators in the swamps below the bridges. Verdance and kudzu and lovebugs abound. Every little cafe and gas station bathroom has a dialect-rich conversation to eavesdrop upon. The humid generosity of the people, the dirty jeans on the little boys, the wilted plastic daisy flip-flops on the little girls.
It's cheesy to mention how I cried the first trip I made after Katrina or to conjure the broken Shoney's billboard and the truncated pines. People I met along the way weren't weepy about it. They were matter-of-fact, focused on bleaching stuff, or they were just flat pissed about the scandalous way funding was being passed around. Politics in LA have always had the moral smack of a drive-through daiquiri stand. Hard to wax sappy about a situation that smells as bad as that one did. Two years later, there are still scars and scandals, plus the Katrina trailers, but the drive-through daiquiri stands survive, as do the lovebugs and the salient courage of just folks. Louisiana is still her verdant, kudzu-drenched self.
I lay last night listening to a guy in the motel swimming pool playing Marco Polo with his swarming nieces and nephews. That's the way life plays with us. Calls out. Hides, which is easy because we are so damn blind all the time. Calls out again. We keep swimming toward the sound. I love it that my son was not too grown up to let me and Gary rescue him. I'm actually a little jealous of his journey through the swamp.