Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Some windows onto life right here, right now, courtesy of Ronnie Virgets and Andrei Codrescu.

Take a little time, click on their columns, read 'em, study 'em a little.

The French Quarter murder-suicide weighed on my mind some when I first heard news of it, and not because of its sensationalism - well, not entirely because of its sensationalism. Come on, who can pass up the allure of a couple who got together the day Katrina hit, who squatted at the edge of the Quarter, working all kinds of jobs just to live on that knife edge, who fought like tigers frequently but who couldn't escape each other's fierce orbits - until their deaths? It certainly has made many salivate over the details as fodder for storytelling, fiction or nonfiction, as Poppy Z. Brite can tell you (check out October 19 and October 20 on her online journal), and I hate to say I was one of the many. For a day or two. And every once in a long while.

No, it sat on me a bit because I knew so many girls, especially in art school, who were headed down the path to Quarter Rat-dom. I would see them all over town (and I still do) finding ways to be noticed or unnoticed. To scrape by and show how strong they are in the process. To weave their bodies into the fabric of the city streets - of ANY city streets, really, though New Orleans has been attractive for a long time because of the ease with which one can live here on the cheap and still construct a life of sorts.

I can understand the allure of that life, sure. Sometimes, at my worst moments, that life still retains that greener grass sheen. The impulse to chuck it all and live like a postmodern bohemian. What most don't realize, until they are in the middle of it, is that it can be a hollow sort of life. A life that doesn't heal the one living it so much as it ensures that the wounds and injuries one can get from life will never scab over.

At least, that's the way it was for me.

I tried, for nearly two years, to live a life that seemed to be free of what I felt encumbered me - family expectations, the scorn of coworkers in a previous job, the long-distance clutching of a now ex-boyfriend. It only created new problems, different problems...and ones I am still confronting and working on to this very day.

Addie Hall, ultimately, could have been any one of us, even me. I wish she'd found the place to let her sexual abuse scars heal, because the Quarter certainly wasn't it, in her case. From what I've read, she seemed to be attracted and repulsed by the opposite sex at different times and in some of the best and worst ways. She didn't find her match in her killer, only her end. And she kept on doing this all alone.

It is an unfortunate story with a tragic backdrop in New Orleans at this time. In reality, the location of it has very little to do with this city, or with the general malaise here of people trying to rebuild their lives. The two lived the same way after the storm as they did before it.

But I will look at the girls that hang onto lives in the Quarter with the skin of their teeth a little differently. Any one of them could well be someone's damaged daughter in the guise of a brazen broad. And I hope to God not a one of them falls down the wrong rabbit hole...because, in the end, even the characters in Wonderland had their problems.

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