Sunday, August 5, 2012

Change of Scene

And just like that, the island sojourn ended.

We arrived in New Orleans a week ago Friday night, and if that seems sudden, it was. We planned our move to St. Croix for a year and a half. I think we pulled together our move to New Orleans in about two weeks.

It's actually kind of complicated, although it seemed obvious enough at the time.
In a nutshell, we had to move. Emotionally and financially we needed a change, and right away. So many of our friends were leaving. We still have good friends on island, but the bulk of our circle has scattered as part of the great Hovensa diaspora. We had been struggling for months with how to stay in the island in the face of changing economic conditions, making contingency plans, and New Orleans was on the list. We'd been here before – unlike St. Croix before we moved – and really liked it. The people were warm and wonderful and the city is more alive than most. Tori even had a couple of telephone job interviews with schools here.

The biggest issue was Max. We could have made some sacrifices and stayed, we were actually leaning that way. But we realized it would mean putting Max in public school, which just wasn't fair to him. (They really are THAT bad here. The "good" public schools are the ones where the water runs every day.)
Then – well some of you know this and some don't. We had a terrible shock that we're still reeling from. Tori's daughter Alex, my stepdaughter I had raised since she was 3, died in Oregon last month. We still don't know what happened. Probably never will. She just went to bed and didn't wake up. I'm still not prepared to say any more about it than that.

It just took all the fight out of us.

We had to "do something." We had to go. It's been a constant challenge – and that's a good thing. It keeps us from brooding too much.

We like it here. We've been here a week, found a home in the suburb of Metairie. A 20 minute drive from the French Quarter in our (very) used car we've dubbed The Beast. It's a way station while we get to know the city and know where we want to stay. And there's a fabulous park only half a mile from here, 150 acres of paths and a bird sanctuary and fields. It's an amazing place. Rabbits hopping along in front of you. Millie got down on her hands and knees and slowly crept towards one, talking softly all the time, until she was able to pet it.

Millie is "The Bunny Whisperer."

One reason we picked NOLA is music. Max is very into music, plays guitar, clarinet and dabbles with others, and we thought this might be a good place for him.

If we'd have gotten here a month ago Tori would have a job by now. School starts Aug. 9 - this Thursday! - and all the schools have quit hiring in the mad rush before opening. But several like her resume and have already told her, Wait a week. As soon as we figure out what what our actual enrollment is we'll need more staff, and we'll definitely be calling you. She's got a good resume, because she's a terrific teacher. Every year, about November, parents of her students would tell her, "This is the first time Xxxxxxx has wanted to come to school every morning!"

I am still working for the Source. I can edit from anywhere there's a wifi connection, and I do a lot of the press release rewrites and stuff. Hell, one of our editors lives in Ecuador, so NOLA is nothing. You've gotta love the flexibility of an online service.

So anyway, that's why Louisiana. Oh, also, it's SO much less expensive to live here. Milk is half the price it is in the island, bread a third. Even something as simple as mac and cheese is way less costly here than on island, where everything has to come in by boat. The only things cheaper on St. Croix are rum and cigarettes, and since I don't drink hardly at all anymore, and quit smoking a year and a half ago, that really doesn't apply.
So, for now, we're not islanders. But we'll continue posting, telling anyone who cares (and I can't believe that's many) about our life on the bayou.


Amanda said...

My husband's from Louisiana, and has a love/ hate relationship with the state. He misses the food most -- for him, I learned to put together an awesome pot of red beans.

It's a gorgeous area. All good thoughts from our family to yours.

Mimi Foxmorton said...

Now see, that's what I adore about you all. You're Livin' the Dream FOR us! ;)

Keep shining, mates! You will never, ever regret an adventure!

And neither will Max! :)

As for the rest.....strength and peace to you......

All my huggies are yours!
But Tori gets all my kisses! ;)

TikiGeek said...


I'm really happy to see you posting again. I got a sense what had happened from your FB posts and have been concerned about how things have been going for you guys. I'll just say I'm sorry for your loss my friend.

Congratulations on the move to NOLA. My wife grew up there and we both love the place. It will be a good place to get restablished

Big_Aengus said...

Wow! I'm so very sorry to learn about Alex! My family and I will pray for you and yours to find peace.

Best wishes and good luck for your future in the Big Easy.

Laura Curtis said...

It is amazing to me, after subscribing to your blog for so long, that you've actually moved into my neighborhood. I live just a few blocks from that park. Love the black swans there. Check out the waterfall - lots of bunnies in that part of the park. Anyway, welcome to the neighborhood, and please let me know if I can do anything for you to help you get settled in to the area.

I'm so sorry to hear of your loss. I can't even imagine it. We're praying for y'all.

Laura Curtis said...

Also - Fuji Sushi on Veterans is excellent. For really good Chinese food, you want 5 Happiness on Carrolton, but for quick neighborhood takeout Chinese, try the Little Chinese Kitchen on David Dr. It's next to Go4Games, which, by the way, is awesome.

Charli Armstrong said...

I am so sorry for your loss.

Love to all of you and I look forward to reading more about your life on the Bayou!

TikiGeek said...

John, how are things in the Big Easy? I keep checking the blog often, looking forward to hearing an update.

Lynn Patton said...

You definitely need to check out the Louisiana Renaissance Festival, right across the Causeway from you in Hammond. Pirates always welcome!

See more info at

Welcome to Louisiana!