I have this fascination with the South. Southern accents. Southern food. Southern men. Southern comfort. In my eyes, New Orleans was quintessential South. The food, the revelry, the architecture, the music, the culture.
The ex, who I mean-spiritedly refer to as Yukkell™, was from the South. Louisana to be exact. He spoke with a slight southern twang. It was distinctive and was only apparent with certain words. Like he pronounced, McDonald’s, as MacDonald’s. I liked his pronunciation - or enunciations. For years I heard him talk about his ex-girlfriend by the name “Till.” Only when she came back into the picture and trumped me as Girl Who Has His Heart, I learned that her name is actually pronounced as “teal.” Yeah, like the fucking color. What I once thought was his charming accent, I now think of as his hillbilly accent. Yet it was his best friend, in an attempt to cheer me up one night, refer to Yukkell as the Bayou Boob. Heh.
But he embodied part of that Southern Myth that I was (am?) so attracted to for years.
The night my father died, Yukkell and I were in one of our Off Moments. We were either On or Off and it was ALWAYS based on HIS mood, which side of Gemini I got to deal with. Jekyll or Hyde. Let’s just say he was being a jerk. Until he got the frantic call from me telling him my dad was in the hospital, hooked up to a ventilator. I think he really thought it was going to be alright when he told me so.
Well, you know how the story ends. It wasn’t alright. When I called him the next morning to tell him so, he cried. In the days following, he was There for me. I guess. He came to the funeral. He spent the next day – the 4th of July - with what was left of my family. I mean, Mom without Dad was weird. The next week I spent with my mother in Philadelphia trying to take care of her – my sister and I did. I certainly could not have done it without my sister. And Yukkell insisted on talking to me everyday. We would stay up late talking on the phone. The Sadness that was surrounding us all in that house I tried to escape from with those nightly phone calls. He said that it pained him to see me hurt so badly. And he wanted to do something for me. So – knowing my fascination for The South - he promised to take me to New Orleans. As some kind of consolation. This did cheer me up. But I told him I wasn’t ready to enjoy it just yet but maybe in a few months. A trip to New Orleans became my light at the end of the tunnel. My beacon of hope that one day I would be ready to release the pain of grief - strong enough to do so. My goal was to take that trip to New Orleans when I was ready. And he was always reminding me of the Trip We Were Going To Take.
Except, we never took the trip. For whatever reason. As time went on, he talked about it less. And since I built the trip up as some kind of prize for overcoming Grief, was it guilt that disallowed my accepting it? My holding on to the grief, as my way of holding on to Daddy? Yet I know that you have to let go of the pain and just let Love resonate.
So I remember one night, we were at the computer poised to book the flights and the computer…CRASHED. Me and my superstitions and conspiracy theories - I took this as a sign. Doom. Deep down, I knew all along We were doomed. But I didn’t know that this beloved City I Had Never Been To But Loved Anyway, this City in which I held such romantic notions of Southerness, was doomed too.
There are some who think the city will never recover. I hope not. I’d like to think that not all my loves are the Doomed Kind.