I’ve announced this on Facebook, and via email, I realize, but not on this blog. Big changes are rumbling in the Morris/Middy household at the moment, and I’m not just talking about the dramatic change in rankings after Stage 15 of the Tour de France. We’re both leaving Tulane – I’ve left already, in fact – and we’re also leaving New Orleans.
We’ll be living in Glasgow (the one in Scotland, not Kentucky). I have a new job, teaching creative writing at the University of Stirling. TM is looking for gainful employment there (“ideally in or near a distillery”) ; he’s waiting for his work visa to be processed, so we can buy our tickets.
People keep asking us how we will cope with the cold in Glasgow. “You will freeze to death!” they predict, helpfully. I think the residents of New Orleans forget that T. Middy is from St Louis, which gets much, much colder in the winter than Glasgow does. The last time we spent a Christmas there, I got a blood nose every day from the dry cold, and slid onto my back on a patch of black ice (inside a covered parking garage). We’ve also lived in New York, where blizzards swirl through every winter, and in Iowa, where some days we couldn’t get the car up the incline of our snow-packed, icy parking area.
It will rain a lot in Glasgow, in a more incessant and drizzly way than it rains here. It will be gray and dark in the winter. The wet, chilly winter will feel unbearably long, the way the wet, sweltering summer feels unbearably long in New Orleans. We will persevere.
A rep from a shipping company came by today to calculate how much stuff we have to move. “It’s mostly books,” she said, telling us something we did not know. Unfortunately, books are heavy and take up a lot of boxes.
We’ve already begun clearing out and giving many things away, including some of the books. Thurgood Marshall, a school on Canal Street, now owns our set of encyclopedia. We’ve given others to the New Orleans Public Library for their weekly book sale, and had clothes and various household goods picked up by a charity. If anyone has any suggestions about where other things can be donated or put to good use in New Orleans – and remember, we have to get rid of or ship EVERYTHING – then please let me know.
There are many, many, many things we’ll miss about living in New Orleans, and I’ll write about them in a later post. But one thing I will not miss is the terrible driving here, especially the people who whizz though stop signs or drive the wrong way down one-way streets because this is New Orleans, baby, and the rules don’t apply. Also, the many people who cannot use a turn signal, possibly because they are holding their cell phone with one hand and a cigarette/drink in the other. (Or, like the woman driving her SUV through the four-way stop at Prytania and Jefferson on Friday: one hand used to clamp her phone to an ear, the other hand scratching her head.)
A related issue is the attitude of certain people who live in nice houses on nice streets, who don’t want riff-raff parking outside. Last Mardi Gras, during an evening parade, someone we know got their tires slashed because (they suspected) they’d parked too close to place-saving trashcans stationed in the street. And a month or so ago, when I parked as usual on Walnut Street, on the edge of Audubon Park, I incurred the wrath of someone who lives right on the park. I was parked legally, nowhere near the intersection or a fire hydrant. There were, in fact, two other cars parked between my car and the corner. I was well clear of all driveways. The car was an inch away from the sidewalk, with the side mirror turned it to avoid drive-by smashings by wide-load SUVs. Other cars lined this side of the block, as usual. But when I returned to my car that afternoon, I found this note on the windscreen.
There is no law about parking 15 feet away from a driveway on a residential street in New Orleans, because if there were, nobody would be able to park on any streets at all. (I guess this is what the owners of the house on Walnut Street would prefer.) And the ticket-givers of New Orleans, by far the most assiduous of our civil servants, would be going crazy up and down Walnut Street – and elsewhere – every day. I was parked about three feet from the driveway in question, not blocking it in any way. When I got this note, I was so irritated that I felt like driving through a stop sign while talking on the phone and scratching my head. But I did not. I’m very fond of our car, Otto Von Jetta.
Otto is for sale now as well, unfortunately, because we can’t take him with us to Scotland. He’s a 2004 Jetta in excellent condition – leather seats, sun roof, c 62 K miles. T. Middy keeps him very spick and span. We might even be persuaded to throw in our hurricane preparedness kit, i.e. a flashlight and a bottle opener. We have learned from sad experience (at a Super 8 motel in Mississippi) that bottle openers are not always readily available elsewhere. As Ignatius Reilly says, “outside the city limits there are many horrors.”