This wasn’t my first attempt at trying live in the place. The last time I was there was also the last time I had seen my father and his family until this move. Over a decade ago (yes, I’m old. Ok, not really. But that made me sound old. I’m really not old though. Seriously. Shut up.) I moved from my mountains to go to the beach. It was under not good circumstances that I ended up there so we won’t talk about that here. (If you really want to know that story, leave me a comment and I’ll tell you. Otherwise, let’s just say I am who I am now in spite of bad decisions made for me out of anger by other people.) Yay for starting off on a depressing note!
So, Virginia. Had lived in Hampton Roads once before. Now living there (by choice this time) again. This time, there was hope. This time, there was a plan. This time, I was supposed to grow up and start really living my life. This was the real deal. I mean, I gave up everything I knew for the complete opposite. Mountains for a beach, the west for the east, blissful dry climate for killer humidity, high altitudes for sea level, a Mormon mommy for a non-denominational daddy, everyone I loved for strangers… the complete opposite of what I had. I also gave up stagnation for progression. I wanted something different. I wanted a life of meaning and purpose and I felt that I was going nowhere fast in Utah. So, I gave it all up. And I was really excited. I was like, “Bring it!”
But first, why not take another huge driving trip to New Orleans??
Yay! New Orleans! I had never been there before. I hadn’t been that close to the place since we moved from Pensacola, FL when I was 7. (That’s right y’all. Originally from the trailer park with roots in the deep South. And y’all wonder why I’m so adorable. ) It was time to visit The Big Easy.
When my best friend, Arae, heard I was going to be going to New Orleans because “it was the closest I had been to the place and, well, why not,” she laughed at me. She said, “It’s like going to Utah and saying, ‘Wow! I might as well go to Seattle since I’m so close.’” She was right. It was a bit more of a trek than I was expecting. 18 hours down. 19 hours back. 2,000 miles round-trip. In my car. All. By. My. Self. I am hardcore like that. I almost didn’t end up going because my phone fried itself the day before. I wouldn’t have been able to get anywhere without it because it had my GPS navigator on it and, well, I wasn’t in Utah anymore where the roads make complete sense. 100% grid beauty was no longer an option for me. It was pure chaos back east and I would have been lost forever in the first 5 minutes of being anywhere if I didn’t have GPS. Anyhoo, my daddy saved the day by letting me use his phone (which had GPS and important phone numbers of people I would need to be in touch with that I didn’t have anymore because my phone decided having fried guts was a good idea) and off I went. I got lost in Suffolk, VA, almost died due to a monsoon just outside of Atlanta, GA, and got hit on by some random dude at 1 am in Mobile, AL (and trust me when I say I looked like death warmed over by that point.) All in all, an adventure.
Made it NOLA all safe and sound. My host was fantastic and had the biggest, cutest, sweetest puppy ever! I would have suggested that I should take him home with me (the puppy, not my host) but he was too big to fit in my car. (I really want a puppy. And now you know.) The next day, Fleur De Lindy began!
New Orleans is an amazing place. Full of history and pizzaz and voodoo and debauchery. Amazing people and FANTASTIC music playing in the streets. It was a sight to behold. And I couldn’t ever live there. But that’s just me and I’m a big wuss so, there ya go. I’m glad I got to visit and I’m hoping to visit again in the near future but a weekend is about it for me. Awesome parts of the weekend include: meeting up with Dabney and Karen (whom I love), seeing someone pick up a hooker right in front of me, DANCING DANCING DANCING!!!!!, meeting up with Johnny Redshirt, meeting a bunch of amazing people who I’ve never met before and instantly fell in love with, dancing to bands like Tuba Skinny, The Loose Marbles, and The Palmetto Bug Stompers and running across the street between DBA and The Spotted Cat to hear them because they were playing at the same time, shopping with Birdy, dancing at the Wax Museum and Karen and I getting freaked out by the creepy looking figures in the tour thing on the first floor, everyone and their llama buying me Shirley Temples because I don’t drink (and one of the bartenders being so excited that he got to make one that he did a dance behind the bar and gave it to me for free), the drag queens telling us to get the party started at 3 am (they were really pretty and just getting started themselves), and dancing at One-Eyed Jacks to Meschiya Lake and The Cyclowns and being star-struck when Steve Zahn and Tim Robbins came strolling in.
I know, right?? It was a great trip. So happy I got to go.
Then I went back to my new home. Time to really begin my new life on the East Coast. My Branch for Church was amazing. The people there were some of the most genuine and kind-hearted people I’d had met. They cared for me so much. I was blessed to have them in my life guiding me along my way. The Relief Society was so enveloping and loving. I’ve never felt so included in a group of women like that before. I had incredible people surrounding me all the time with that bunch. I know I’m a better person because of their presence in my life. (Thanks Tidewater YSA Branch!!!)
The Swing Dancers there were pure gold. I love them dearly. They were a small group but, man, did they have fun. I thought it was hilarious that I moved there on a Saturday and by the next Thursday I was already teaching. There were a lot there who had a lot to learn. They didn’t even know what a Shorty George was. (Every swing dancer of any time ever should have learned this within their first year in my opinion.) Anyhoo, I almost fell over in shock on that one.
I really miss Thursday Nights after the dance at the Attuck’s going to Tortilla West and just loving life. I felt the most at home with them. They felt like family and were one of the biggest reasons why I wanted to stay there. If things had been any different and I had a way of being able to take care of myself and making it there, I would have learned to LOVE it there. And as hard as everyone tried to help me (my family, my church, the dancers) it just wasn’t quite right. Even after Mark moved to Elizabeth City, NC (about an hour south of Norfolk) and came to visit, I knew that I wouldn’t be there long.
I was miserable.
No ones fault. It just wasn’t the right place for me to be. I had been looking for a job, going on interviews, applied with a temp agency even, and got nothing. The funny thing is, I went to VA to start a life. Go grow up. To go to school, get married, be an adult. That was the plan. And it never came to be. I’ve never cried so much in my life. Every day. It’s just how it was.
I did learn some valuable lessons from Mark though. We he came back to stay with me before the official move to Elizabeth City, he came in, saw me, and (pretty much) the first things out of his mouth were, “What’s the matter?” I lied and told him I was ok and didn’t want to talk about it. He then told me I wasn’t being a good friend. I didn’t take that hard at all. Nope. Not one bit. I’m pretty good at listening. I have a harder time being on the other end. Apparently, being a friend means allowing other people to help you too. I’m not very good at that. So, finally, I broke down and told him everything. And he just held me and let me cry. I’ve never had a man around for such a thing. It was nice. And, all the sudden, it made sense as to why we need other people in our lives. Not just to be there for others but to allow ourselves to be vulnerable and letter others help us. To let them hold us and share our lives. It was hard not to be Super Girl but I’m glad I finally understood that concept. (Now to put it to use…)
See? Isn’t Mark just the greatest thing since ever? Whoever gets him is THE LUCKIEST GIRL IN THE WORLD.
So, a couple of weeks later, I decided I would move back to Utah. I would go back to school and get a better job and be the woman I thought I was going to become in VA. I just had to go to VBLX (Virginia Beach Lindy Exchange) first and have Johnny Redshirt and Mark come and stay with me one last time before I left. And it was good times. Until my car started overheating…
And that concludes this part of the story. (Ooh! I just cliffhangered your booty.)