One of the many reasons I moved here was to be closer to family. My aunt, our matriarch, lives across Lake Pontchartrain Causeway, the longest bridge (over water) in the world. I drove my tiny convertible sports car with the top down, the wind whipping at me at 65 mph (the speed limit! I’m unaccustomed to over 35 mph). In the middle, you can’t see land in front or behind you. It brings a slightly freaky sensation of freedom and vulnerability. I decided to go with freedom and screamed as loud as I could for as long as I could… right past the men working on something just under the bridge. Did they think I was insane or does that happen all day on a bridge like this.
My cousin used to do prayers at the midway point. Others kiss or make a wish. I guess I was overdue for a good guttural scream.
My aunt and I had a lovely buffet lunch at her country club. There was a lot of discussion among the diners and the manager about this year’s Christmas pageant and how much more elaborate it was than the last. And I felt free to leave my purse when I went to refill my plate. I will learn to be less guarded, less vigilant here. Maybe it’s not L.A., maybe it was just my reaction to it, but I feel tough where I wanted to be strong. I look forward to the more vulnerable version of me finally getting her turn at the wheel. Gotta admit, scares me to even write that.
When we got back to my aunt’s, we sat and visited in her car while she finished a story, then went to exit the car when she exclaimed, “A snake!” About a foot and a half long, a brown snake raised its head just where she would’ve put her feet. I jumped out and grabbed a twig from the garage floor and poked it. Nothing. My aunt suggested the umbrella, so I poked it with that – and it zigged and zagged across the concrete like it was the top of a glassy lake. I told my aunt to stay in the car, that it was a water moccasin – a juvenile, but poisonous just the same. Being in Louisiana has always provided ample opportunities for the farm girl in me to come out, but saving my aunt from a snake made me feel like an umbrella-wielding southern super-hero.
I drove back over the lake with the top down as the sun lowered. My friend, Lauren, came by for a walk just after sunset and I was concerned we’d have to cancel but many have assured me the neighborhood is safe at night and we had a (relatively harmless) dog with us. We split an amazing gelato – 1/2 dark chocolate spiced with cayenne and honey and 1/2 orange sorbeto. Delicious!
And we hung the paintings in my gigantic bedroom. My Johnny Cash painting, which always seemed pretty large, looked like a postage stamp on the wall above my bed until we arranged small shelves and wall sculptures around it.