I will miss you so much. The last five years have been wonderful.
We didn’t get off to a great start. If I remember correctly, you seemed to be rejecting me at first. I couldn’t find a job. My life was falling apart. I didn’t know anyone. I was insecure, scared, overweight and lost.
But then, you began to give me gifts. I started walking in Girard Park and fell in love with the rhythm of the path, the breeze through the oak trees and even a cute guy or two playing tennis. As I slowly returned to my natural physical size, I laughed and cried on your walking path, sang to my favorite songs, had long phone calls and texting sessions with family, friends and the revolving door of men I attempted to date. My daily walks became my refuge. The park became a character in my story.
Eventually you gave me a job. First a small one where I was able to get back to research on the history of rockets and space travel. (The exhibit hangs upstairs at the science museum: Leaving Earth. I did that.)
And then came two other jobs, both of which I was fired from. The first one wasn’t my fault but the second one was.* I met some of the most wonderful people in the world in those places and learned a lot.
And then there were the friends. Oh, Lafayette, I cannot express to you enough how grateful I am for the friends you gave me.
Lisa, the woman who came up to me when she too was going through a difficult transition…..and looked up at me with that friendly face and said, “Hey, I’m Lisa. I think we know each other.” From that moment on we were peas in a pod and we had some of the best times of my life together. She slowly taught me to cajun dance, opening up a whole world to me. If the floors of the Blue Moon could talk. We contributed our fair share to the wear and tear of those wood floors and back benches. She showed me Whiskey River and Nunu’s. We laughed and cried together and watched each other survive, recover and thrive. Neither of us are the same person we were that day, five years ago. I wouldn’t be who I am now if not for her.
And Amy. Crazy, wonderful, beautiful Amy. What started as a random aquaintance became one of the best friendships I’ve ever experienced. Her constant humor, unapologetic irreverance, deep kindness hidden by raucous repoitroire and sense of fun and adventure have enriched my life deeply.
Amy and Lisa make up just two of our current little clique sometimes referred to as The Compound Group. Though, Branch Laridian is gaining popularity. Erik, Larry, James and a crew of significant others have somehow come together as a sort of standard gang whose activities include harassing the bartenders and patrons of Pamplona, drinking beer at the Biergarten, watching Larry cook and eating his wonderful fare at the apartment we call The Compound, making guest appearances at Rusty’s and making sure our festivals are well staffed with local color.
I appreciate you sending me these crazy people, Lafayette. It was really nice of you. I’m going to miss them.
No love letter to you would be complete without mentioning my beloved Pamplona; my home base, my first date testing ground, my writing spot, and the venue of four glorious birthday parties. It feels like most of my life happened at that bar. The countless Wednesdays. The infamous absinthe party. That time I had that horrible match.com meet-up. The time Erik and Larry wore robes. The time James and I walked in with dip cones from Borden’s. The oysters, the beef carpaccio salads and gallons of house red consumed.
I visited you for the first time after a divorce-related legal proceeding. I was a mess. I saw my ex with his first girlfriend there. I met the Syrian doctor (my first post-divorce date) there. I brought the Persian, Pumpkin Patch, Mr. Houston, Mr. Z and finally Mr. Canada there. I discussed politics, religion, sex, fashion, dating, depression and countless other ridiculous topics there. Your bartenders: James, Casey, Ryan and others have been hapless witnesses, wingmen, confidents and security detail over the past five years. I will miss seeing that square, red sign as I push open the front door and walk right past the hostess with the wave of a regular, hop up to the bar, scan the seating availability, adjust the distance of the seat from the bar and say yes to the standard question, “House Red?”
Thank you Lafayette for giving me a safe, fun and weird stage for the farce that is often my life.
Thank you Lafayette for time with my son. The fact that Christopher was without a car, an inconvenience to both of us, left us with countless opportunities to explore our strange mother-son dynamic. There is no one I can be more myself with than Christopher and I suspect he feels the same. I really should have recorded those car rides. We would have made a great youtube channel. Between his irrational need to hold everyone accountable to the rules of the road, to arguments over our taste in music and the merciless mocking he put me through over my tragic dating life…..we laughed our way through five years of carpooling and errand running. I will miss him terribly and I hope you don’t mind, Lafayette if I ask you to send him over to Oregon soon.
Thank you for the music. For the Pine Leaf Boys and Feufollet. For Cedric and Horrace and so many others. Some of the best moments of my life have been on a dance floor moving to the music of these amazing musicians, scanning the room as I twirled around and feeling the peaceful bliss of connecting with my body to a community and a heritage. And thank you for the Blue Moon; that wonderful, quirky venue where so many weird little dramas occurred along with more fun that a person deserves to have in a lifetime.
Thank you for #5 and #3. The first time I stepped into that crappy, dingy space (#5), I thought, Oh God, can I really do this? That miniscule space with it’s orange carpet and weird furniture was the site of a million laughs, meals shared and even a love affair or two. And then you gave me #5. The first time I walked into that space, I was overwhelmed by the natural light flooding one little room after another. I have never felt so comfortable in a place as I have in my lovely #5. And of course it was the site of my first date….ok maybe first 10 dates with Mr. Canada. He really liked you. He says goodbye too by the way.
And of course, thank you, thank you, thank you for HOLI. The first time I attended HOLI fest in Girard Park I was overwhelmed with emotion. I wanted to bottle up that feeling and return to it any time I felt sad. Since then, I’ve photographed every one. With the support and help of the Acadiana Indian Association and some very dedicated friends, I was able to showcase some of those photographs in a gallery show. [Lafayette HOLI] That was a wonderful night. But my favorite part was sharing all my photographs with the subjects and the international flair my facebook friend lists took on once a year.
Thank you for everything Lafayette. You were the incubator I needed to grow from the unhappy, lost woman I was to the free and independent, hot mess of a weirdo that I am.
I love you Lafayette. You will always be in my heart.
*Pro Tip: Don’t say the word, “smartass” on an alter of a Catholic Church as you are representing a non-profit in front of the entire student body of the private school who is one of said non-profit’s biggest supporters. They don’t like it when you do that.