The two travel pots on the stovetop nest in to each other; the handles collapse down and the medium one sits snugly inside the large one. Lately they’ve just been boiling water inside my house in New Orleans, but there was a time not long ago when they were used to make coffee and campfire meals high atop the Cascades, the Sierra, and the Rocky mountain ranges. They’ve been washed clean in the Pacific, the Atlantic, and the Gulf of Mexico.
Lately, however, the farthest these travel pots travel is from the cupboard to the stove to the sink.
Rinse and repeat.
The once cherry-red plastic fairings on my motorcycle have faded to a pale pink. The exhaust pipe running along the side of the engine is covered in dirt-colored rust, courtesy of the humid Southern air thick with salt from the Gulf.
She ain’t much to look at, but that machine took me clear across America three times in my first 18 months of studying street theater. I’ve had many 500+ mile days on those off-road-ready wheels.
Those same wheels now travel two or three miles a day. From my home in 7th ward to Jackson Square and back. Day trips to City Park or grocery shopping. Rainy rides to the bank.
Rinse and repeat.
There are certain areas in this city that play magic tricks on you. You can walk across a block during the day and not think a thing of it. But walk through the exact same spot at night suddenly you’re knocked off your feet by an intoxicating cloud of floral nose-candy radiating from the nocturnal blossoms of night blooming jasmine.
It’s a bittersweet scent for me, because it usually signals the end of the New Orleans street performing season, as the spring sun starts sending daytime foot traffic scurrying for the shade. For the last four years I have often left town in April or May, and the arrival of the jasmines overpowering aroma has become a visceral kiss goodbye from the anomaly that is New Orleans.
Six months. Six months seems to be the limit before I grow uncomfortably comfortable and start craving a change of scenery. It’s also about how long I can travel before I feel road-weariness and the accompanying desire to settle.
After seven months in New Orleans, I’m hitting the road again. Here’s the plan: May in Washington, June on the motorcycle cruising up the east coast, July and August in Europe, September cruising down the east coast back to New Orleans. Another season of New Orleans street performing comes to a close, and I learn to leave all over again.
Thanks for reading.