Wednesday, March 30, 2016

State Project: Louisiana

Louisiana is the Pontchartrain Causeway, an endless ribbon of highway across the water.

Louisiana is the Lake Charles Bridge. Louisiana is remembrances of my father's family's vacations.

Louisiana is a high school French class taught by an elderly Cajun woman. It's a French Food day with a stock pot with a whole damned chicken in it and sausages that I'm not sure we should have eaten.

Louisiana is realizing the French I learned isn't the French anyone else speaks. I skipped most of French III, though, so I might be wrong.

Louisiana is watching a baseball game in Houston with a Cajun girl I'm nervous around. She's sitting next to me on the bleachers while we watch the team dressed in white and brown warm up for the game. She tells me the story of how they met. She and her friends had come down to Nacogdoches to watch an ex-boyfriend play. How the catcher on the opposing team had asked her out, from all the girls in the crowd, and she wound up drunk at his place, sorting through his mail trying to figure out who he was. How she knew getting into bed with him was a bad idea, but she couldn't even help herself. How her family was livid when she dropped out to marry him. How she knew he wasn't the perfect man, but he was hers. At least for now, she ended with a sigh. I followed her gaze out towards the dugout, where he was going over the lineup. And instead of the guilt or shame I should have been feeling, there was this rush.

I sat and listened to her and watched as the game started and I kept the books and wore a t-shirt with a baseball on it, and his ball cap with his name inside the brim. White cap dingy with sweat and a brown MC on the front.

Louisiana is her getting up to go take a smoke and him coming over and spitting on the ground in front of me, sunflower seeds.

"You don't need to worry about her," he tells me.

"I might never worry about her again," I said, full of the risk of this entire conversation.

"Good. You're way smarter than she'll ever be."

Well no shit, I thought, but didn't say.

Louisiana feels a little rundown and a little scary, a little foreign and beaucoup de risques.

Have I been to Louisiana? In several ways.


  1. Louisiana is the only place I have been shot at. Louisiana is throw up all over me from a strange lady from iowa. Louisiana is the best cup of coffee, best steak, best hotdogs I have ever had. Louisiana is an amazing ww2 musuem. Louisiana is being 18 in a casino learning how to play poker with a fake id. Louisiana is waffle house money in the glove box so you don't leave lake Charles broke AND hungry. Louisiana is hiding from a gunman in a 15 passenger van with 15 passengers. Louisiana is watching Michigan and Virginia Tech play in the sugar bowl because your team lost. Louisiana is a 45 minute flight away. Louisiana is a 40% spike in the murder rate of Houston when kachina drove the criminals down I-10. My Louisiana is slightly different than yours, but still kind of the same. Oh, and Louisiana smells bad.

    1. Slightly different but still kind of the same. I knew your Louisiana would beat mine. If I'd been an adult in TX...nope. Yours would still smell worse and be more dangerous.

  2. Louisiana is being about 13 and walking down Bourbon St. where the barkers quickly close the doors so the little kids can't see the strippers. People drinking Hurricane Punch as they walk down Bourbon St. Louisiana is ancient cemeteries and wondering why your parents took you there to see graves of people who are not related to you and not wanting to be there. It's going to a convent on the trolley to visit Sister Merry Christmas (Mary Noel) and finding out that the nuns slept in former slave quarters. It's Grand Isle where we pigged out on fresh shrimp that still had their heads on and purchased straight off the boat. It's spending days on the beach and in the Gulf of Mexico and only getting slightly sunburned when my big sister was so sunburned she couldn't take her swimsuit off. It's walking on a shell path and not through the grass. If you walk through the grass the mosquitoes (which are the size of sparrows) jump on you to get a ride inside because they are too lazy to fly. Louisiana is where my first love lived (I was about 7 when I fell in love with an older man (He was probably in his 20's) It's good memories of family vacations.