New Orleans Magic

Trudy’s Work Trudy Moser //

New Orleans Magic by Annelie Meador //

It was early January, only a few days into the new year, a freshly newborn 2004. I did not feel
the fresh air associated with new beginnings as my clouded mind felt like it was in a never ending war with reality. I had just come out of the biggest mistake of my life, a three month marriage to a cheater, a controlling and petty man. I had deluded myself into believing I was in love, and as a result here I was, shadow boxing myself to a pulp. “Will I ever find my way back?” I thought. “What is left of the true me that my ex didn't destroy?” Little did I know that everything was about to change in a magical way.
A special phone call came on a not so special day, completely unexpectedly from a friend in New Orleans, Louisiana. Michelle and I had met in an otherworldly dimension, a computer game called EverQuest. Our friendship was the only spark in the dark. Her warm voice was full of hints of adventure, laughter, and possibilities, now extending an invitation over the phone to Mardi Gras that coming February. Complex emotions flooded me with self-doubt. I was not sure if I was ready to leave my comfortable misery, nor was I in the mood for carefree, foolish celebrations.
My divorce had me in a prison. I spent the majority of my time by myself, shunning social events and neglecting my friends. I felt like a modern day Aurora, unable to wake up from a deep-rooted sleep. Except there would be no prince to stick his tongue down my throat. “True love is bogus,” I thought, “manufactured like Valentine’s Day for commercial benefits.”
My bedroom had not been sun-kissed in months, and a dusty, stuffy smell hung heavy in the air. As my mother entered the room, a sliver of light crossed my bed and caused me to cringe. “I guess I am a vampire now,” I thought dryly, sweeping my tongue over my teeth. “Nope, I still have time.” She sat
down on the side of my bed, smelling of cigarette smoke and coffee. With dried tears in her eyes, she expressed the difficulty of seeing her only child in such a state. She urged me yet again to leave my warm, soft, fluffy pillows and start to live again. 
“Please go to your friend, Annelie. It will be good for you,” She said. “I cannot keep seeing you this way.”
It is difficult to see the wisdom in front of you or to understand when you need it the most. As I get older myself I realize that, that wisdom is not just a clever word. I pulled out my suitcase, signaling my surrender. A tingle in my core announced that an adventure was dawning. My suitcase was not very special, a casual dove-blue, hard shell giant. I always seem to pack for four, but this time I packed with plenty of room left and wished my travel bag was smaller.
The day I left was a typical Swedish winter morning. Stars in the skies played peekaboo between the murky clouds in the early morning hours. The cold air shocked my senses alive. Nature’s CPR. My beloved mother beside me in the car, smiled at me with a gleam in her eyes - one that I had not seen in a year - and her red hair seemed on fire. She drove me to the Landvetter airport in Goteborg and hugged me goodbye at my gate. My flight was on time, and I shuffled my way towards my seat, sat down, and stopped breathing for a second as a stinging sensation in my nostrils made me fight another breath. I inhaled, against my will, old sweat, eastern spices and someone’s garlic bread that made me want to hurl in my purse. I decided that it probably wouldn't go over well, as the blond, cat-eyed woman with a frozen smile next to me was stuck with me for at least half a day. I might be damned but I was not cruel.
Landing on shaky legs, a smiling Michelle met me at the gate. Her hug was suffocating; a common human display of the measure of love. Crack a bone, feel the love. Over the next couple of days I acclimated to the sticky, hot Louisianian February weather. I consumed too many Mudslides and skyscraper-Hurricanes, naked breasts flashed before my eyes with every step on the cobblestone Bourbon Street, and I watched gay dancers in tiny fluorescent thongs grind up to strangers. I got hit in the head with more than one set of flying beads from the balconies. If God was trying to whip me awake, I was starting to get the message. I overdosed on crawfish and butter and found chilling thrills in the local ghost tours. The music, oh the music, pouring from every brick and vein whispered sweet nothings and promises in my ears as I passed by the Funky Pirate jazz bar. I was walking on history and had my hands read by a seer. Not that he really told me anything dramatically true, but I enjoyed the sensation and immersed myself in the moment.
On the last week of my trip, Michelle wanted to take us sailing on her boat with her dad. I have always loved the water. There is something magical about the surface of lakes and oceans. They reflect what is, and hide what they want to. This morning was a bright, warm, and sunny day. The clouds looked like a bowl of marshmallows had exploded all over the Caribbean blue sky. The small dock was easy to get to and Lake Pontchartrain was stunning, cradled between open sea and murky swamps. The boat itself was an old time sailboat, with massive masts and sails. Michelle’s dad maneuvered the boat with ease out to the open lake. The Louisiana sun baked my face and shoulders and the lake’s breeze made my hair look like Medusa's snakes. I rolled my eyes at the playful imagery, and smiled. I was feeling at peace out on the water; the magic sparkling waters felt cleansing and friendly on this day. All too well did I know how that could change if Mother Nature so pleased.
All of a sudden her dad had me at the steering wheel; there I was, controlling the sailboat. I watched Michelle grin from ear to ear as she sent me two thumbs up from across the boat. This magnificent beast of a boat maneuvered as if I was steering an oversized bike. I turned a sharp left and a sunbeam hit me right in my eyes. Sounds faded away, voices quieted down. I could hear my own heartbeat. I closed my eyes and let faith steer for a moment. I took a deep breath, allowing the salty air down to my lungs, far deeper than I thought possible, then exhaled. Everything came into focus just like the first day I received my glasses - the water was clearer and the sky was bluer. I felt hope and self-confidence rise in my core. “This is the part of me that my ex could never destroy,” I thought and smiled. Michelle yelled from across the ship “Let’s head back for some crawfisétouffée, I know a great place close to the dock!” I could already smell the crawfish swimming in warm butter and onions; my mouth watered. Soul food. I was ready to return to land.
The day to leave and head back home arrived. My morning was as bright inside as it was outside. My “dovely” suitcase so full I had to duct tape it shut. Right before I walked off to my gate, a warm embrace surrounded me. A smell of sea water and cologne tickled my senses. “I will be back one day,” I thought. With pep in my step, I headed off to fly back home.