Resting in Place

I’m listening to the Dirty Dozen Jazz Band and wishing I could be in New Orleans.

I’ve never been. I planned a trip there once that included accommodations at the Montelone, a drink or two in the hotel’s Carousel Lounge, numerous inebriated stumbles through the French Quarter, a concert at Preservation Hall, beignets and coffee, meals at the Commander’s Palace, Brennan’s, Galatoire’s and Antoine’s.

I had seen some seasons of Treme (they should NEVER have killed off John Goodman’s character!). I’d cooked blackened this and that. I interviewed the late Paul Prudhomme. I’d read books. I’d seen Streetcar Named Desire, the Big Easy and just about every other movie shot there.  I’d listened to Dr. John, Professor Longhair, Louis Armstrong, Trombone Shorty,  Jelly Roll Morton, the Neville Brothers, and Captain Beefheart, howling that he was “gonna go down ah Nawlins, get yourself lost ‘n’ found.”

It never happened for reasons numerous and silly. Then I became a “medical consumer” with the kind of ailments that make specialists happy.

After a few months, and too many co-pays, I was judged fit to travel, and I went on those travel booking sites almost every day. How about a return to Venice in winter? Or Florence? The “Crooked Road” of Virginia’s Blue Grass country. A long New York City weekend with tickets to a Broadway show and a visit to the fancy brand shops on Fifth and Madison avenues? A San Francisco sojourn? An archaeological dig in Tuscany? A motor trip through Sedona? Melbourne and Sydney, Australia? Christmas in Bethlehem (not the casino-adorned  steel town in Pennsylvania–the original, in the Palestinian Territory)? A return to the Canary Islands, with three days in Barcelona? A return to London and the Savoy Hotel? Cross country skiing (with a reindeer sleigh ride) in Finland? Smoked meat in Montreal? Paris? Amsterdam? The Andalusia?

Where another generation would spin a globe and point, I’d plug in a destination and glory in the cheapo hotels that would pop up. I’d pour over maps, consult the reviews, parse the airline flights until all I had to do was tap that final button and-

Something always came up. But I kept looking because, like most people, I’d gone through many years when fun travel wasn’t possible. I learned to “travel  in place,” that is, take different paths to familiar local destinations, discover local history and seek out those little museums, hole-in-the-wall restaurants, public parks and great people watching places.

Now I have the time, the slackening commitments and just enough money saved up to dream about faraway places and…

I asked my wife, of all the places in the world, where would she liked to go when the next vacation came up?

She wants to stay right here, enjoy the holiday, sleep late, visit family, eat well at home, maybe go to the gym (we keep trying but it seems soooooooo far away) and soak into this pretty place. Yes, we live in what would be called suburban sprawl, but the autumnal color change here is just as lovely as it may be at some mountain resort.

And by staying here, we can control what we eat and rest–genuinely, easily, comfortably.

As for Nawlins? It’ll be there when I’m ready.


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