Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Day Twenty-Two: January 2008

Day Twenty-Two: Tuesday, January 29

A clear morning awaited us, despite predictions of thunderstorms for our packing session. A few folks ran off to the ferry to bring back beignets for breakfast, while another set headed out to Rosie’s to do some last minute touchups. The rest started clearing out the bus, the warehouse, the tent, and every other place that we had left our stuff.

Rosie’s crew got to take in the house one more time and they got to hug Rosie a few more times as she cried over our departure. They looked back at the messages that we had scrawled on the railings at her house and thought “Maybe we should clearcoat these at spring break.” We still hope to take down her carport, build her a space for a new shed, and finish landscaping her yard. Who knows? Maybe we’ll be back in just a few short weeks.

As for the cleanup crew, they were quite efficient. They knew that many things had to be tossed, but they also were very judicious in deciding which things could stay with the bus (including our new kitchen tents and our old folding tables), which things could go to Bree and Shane (including open balsamic vinegar and our other “fancy” foods), and which things could be used by the residents of the tent city we pass almost every day. We had lots of food to offer, along with a few sleeping bags, blankets, clothing items, and umbrellas.

Though we were breaking down our NOLA home, we were all in a pretty playful mood. Shawny busted out some of the remaining awards and bestowed them on people. Because some of them were squirt guns and harmonicas, things got a bit crazy for just a short while there.

We finally got the lot back to the condition in which we had found it and headed in for one last run through the French Quarter to pick up souvenirs for ourselves (and for YOU!). Some grabbed one last muffaletta sandwich, some had red beans and rice, and some just hurried to shop.

As we sat at the airport, we realized that we felt like we were re-entering civilization after a long absence. We were overly fascinated with TV screens (a tendency that was even more evident last night at the restaurant when we got mesmerized by a competition in which people were breaking as many as ten concrete blocks at a time with their bare elbows) and we started to get the scoop on celebrity gossip until we remembered that we just don’t care.

Bryan pointed out that he would have to make a big mental adjustment to stop treating his clothing like one big napkin (as we have done with our dirty work clothes for the past three weeks). Others talked about how weird it felt to just sit and wait, rather than pushing on to the next task. Still others predicted that the Moraga routine was going to feel even more strange, as we are unlikely to match our NOLA level of productivity when we are back there.

Despite these losses, most of us were eager to sleep in our own beds tonight, to eat favorite foods, and – most of all – to see family, friends, roommates, girl/boyfriends, pets, and even our cars.

We will see each other in the morning, assuming that we manage to wake up without the presence of 28 other stirring bodies to roust us out of our beds. We’ll review things, look forward to what happens next, and then kick our projects into high gear so that our breaks are not too terribly interrupted by their completion. And, apparently, we will begin to think about spring break and how we want to spend it.

We’re very tired. Our clothes are very dirty. And we are changed. Talk to us, listen to us, hug us, and let us be different than the people we were when we left. Thanks for listening, watching, and reading. We hope to see you on February 13!