Wednesday, February 28, 2007

The Sun Never Shines on Orange Street (Yet Another in a Series of Plotless Anecdotes)

Again, many years ago, again, NOLA. I had just moved out of my apartment, and hadn't yet given much thought to what I'd do next, habitation-wise. I was squatting at N&C's apartment about twelve hours after they had moved out (of town). They still had a few days left on their lease and a mattress, so we all figured, no big deal, I'd stay until I couldn't. This rapidly changed when that very afternoon, a note had been left on the door while I was in the shower saying something to the effect of "please get your ass the fuck on out," to which I gladly complied.

My things were in storage, and as expensive as the storage place was getting, I figured I'd better find somewhere to live (other then friends' sofa's) or else I'd have to actually move into my storage locker. There was a place I'd heard about through work at the bar, but I'd never really taken it seriously. It was offered, and I think I pleasantly smiled or something.

The place was the former apartment of a woman that worked at the restaurant. At least I think she did. I knew she was a friend of Steve's, who definitely worked there, and I know sometimes she was in the kitchen, cooking things. Her name was Karen, but spelled really strangely. I think it had a "b" in it. She was vaguely spooky....long witchy hair, tall and lanky, she wore black jeans. I think Steve had to translate for her a lot, or translate her, actually, which was (again), strange, because she was born and raised in the USofA. She spoke in what sounded, to my admittedly-untrained ear, like tongues. This is what I knew of Karen with a B, except for the fact that she had an apartment that she had to evacuate by a certain day, at which time I was more than welcome to take it over.

I'd been hemming and hawing at first, due not only to Karen's weirdness, but also to the fact that she lived on Orange St. I didn't know precisely where her apartment was, but I'd driven through the area lots of times, and knew the street was reputedly sketchy. I was in beggy, not choosy mode at that point, however, so the next time I saw Karen I told her I'd be happy to move into her place.

Because most of my friends suck, no one wanted to help me move. As had happened more than once during this period of my life, my (silent) cry for help was answered by J.BoD, known as he was for grand (read: pointless) gestures (and horrible drug contacts). He came to pick me up from work one day, the cab of his truck full of ferns (I'd said I'd liked them once, but that's another story entirely), and drove me to my storage place. In front of my storage locker, a man I'd met once only as Nick the Stick waited with a paddy wagon already (somehow) filled with my stuff. Off we went.

I had the address in my pocket, but as we got closer to Orange Street, I started praying to anything holy that my key wouldn't work in the lock. Please believe: I have lived in shady areas of New Orleans before with no problem. I'd lived next to a crackhouse, and our neighbors were actually really sweet. I lived in an apartment on a street with truly nothing else on it, save for our little house; our landlord had seven fingers (total) and a dozen-plus cats. No shit. I was ok with shady. My friends and I were no strangers to unlit, crime-ridden streets. Orange Street was something else entirely, though. The street itself is surrounded on its four sides by projects, highway service road, nothing, and weeds. Anyone who's ever walked to the Quarter from "Corduroy Alley" (no, I'd never heard it called that, either--look it up), knows that there's a little area in between that you'd really rather not call home.

Once we let ourselves into the apartment, I realized that as bad as it seemed from outside, I would rather spend every single night on the front stoop than stay in there for another minute. Only the first front room could be used. There was a giant blue tarp covering the ceiling in the back room and the kitchen, I'm guessing to stop a leak (?). It was filthy, but filthy with dust that had clearly set up shop decades before. Under a tarped ceiling was a dead something being eaten by another now-dead something, which seemed to have died mid-mastication. Mmmm. I was scared to be alone for even a second, not because of what was outside, but what was inside.

I didn't lift a finger for the rest of the day, except to blow my nose mid-sobs. After I saw my things piled up ceiling-high in the front room, I made a soap-opera-like vow that I would never, ever, spend a single night there. Never, ever, in fact, set foot in there again. I may have said it out loud. I was dramatic like that at the time.

My things, however, were not as lucky as I was. While I spent the rest of the summer "housesitting" (couch surfing, again, but my friends were nice enough to pretend that I was providing this service as a favor while they were out of town...I rewarded each one with a fern), my belongings stewed away in the Orange Street apartment.

Eventually I moved into the paradise (comparatively), that was Constance Street. Still my favorite apartment, ever. MBG and I each had our own front door. We window decorated. Life was good for a very short period of time, until I ruined it by fraternizing with Satan's ice delivery guy. A story for another day.


Bernadette Giacomazzo of Akasha Multimedia said...

LOL. I literally LMFAO as I read this.
NOLA sounds like fun. Why do we live in the most expensive city in the world again? Meh. Must be the crystal meth...

Love and miss! xo

Chessa said...

I think I read this before in your older blog...or something like it. I have a crazy memory. I love it here.

ps--"meh" is one of my favorite words. love that you say that.

Crystal said...

Great work.