Easy Come, Easy Go

Note: This entry was written originally in 2008.

Forget much of what was written in volume 9…remember that I got engaged and married, but forget the part about moving back to Minnesota. We did move back to Minnesota, but if you blinked, you may have missed it. Part of me is tempted to pretend like it never happened, because we feel a touch sheepish for the outrageous plan changing…moving to New Orleans after going home to St. Paul is a rapid reversal, even for us.

On the other hand, I think we just have to own up to the whole thing, because it may have been bigger than us. We tried to move back to Minnesota. We rented a U-haul; I got some jobs. We settled back into the condo. My husband participated in a monthly cross-country commute for nine months. But in the dead of winter, with no promising job prospects for him in Minnesota, we began to view his current job with a new appreciation. Minnesota is important to us, and always will be, but we could not find a job there to compete with his current one. He is paid well to do something that challenging and engaging. Not to mention that it may take us out of the country for a while, which we ultimately decided was worth further short-term reshuffling. Finally, living at opposite sides of the country was not proving a fruitful way to cement our newly official partnership.

When we considered the coming months with those things in mind, I re-posted my teaching resume in Louisiana. Before I even mentioned to my husband that I had done that, I was offered a job interview. Four weeks later, I started teaching ESL in a high school in Jefferson Parish, on the West Bank of the New Orleans metro area. I appreciated my respite this year from teaching high school, but also could not shake the feeling that I had bailed too soon; given up too easily. It was time to saddle up.

We are in New Orleans now. It continues to bring Alice in Wonderland to mind. It is often wonderful and occasionally maddening, beautiful and delicious and of course broken. We live across the street from some very good friends who help us navigate the moving decisions…which gym? (the one with chandeliers)…walk or drive? (drive if it is after dark)…which grocery store? (Whole Foods without a doubt)…which restaurant? (all of them). Several mornings a week I hear a man singing about fruit and veggies over a bullhorn in the neighborhood: “…I got watermelon…I got cabbage… I got the mango”. Turns out he is the produce version of the ice cream man, driving around the neighborhood four or five days a week to fulfill our every vegetable desire, or merely to supply the onion that you forgot to buy when you drove across the city to get to the grocery store.  He is called Mr. Okra.

Spring Break ended, and I started teaching this week. I was really nervous, but it feels fine. The school is so poor that I didn’t get a stapler, or even a keyboard to go with my computer, but on the other hand, I have my own classroom for the first time of my teaching career, something I have never been offered by wealthier schools. When my husband finishes at work, we get to eat dinner together, instead of having to talk on the phone about what we ate for dinner. I feel worn-out from the incessant moving, but also peaceful and optimistic about the coming adventures.

Check out this radio program for a really good description of what it feels like here: http://americanradioworks.publicradio.org/features/nola/