Joie de vivre in New Orleans
On October 2nd, 2016, I began to travel from city to city around the South, staying with friends and renting rooms. I'd typically stay in a city for a week and then move on. The decision about where I visited was based largely on where I could earn a living selling books and prints at festivals and events. They're hard work, but there is nothing better than seeing someone connect with the book for the first time. When people get it they really get it. I'm fortunate to be a part of that experience.
As much as I loved certain aspects of my new life, it became clear to me by Christmas that the way that I had structured the journey just wasn't working. A week wasn't enough time to get to know a region and the people who live there. I was blowing through these fascinating places, that are rich with content, like Memphis and Miami, and barely scratching the surface. I had no home, so I had to quickly adapt to new environments every week. My work suffered from lack of any type of consistent environment. Plus, having no experience doing these festivals, I just guessed at which shows would work. Sometimes it was good, but too often the shows weren't a great fit for my kind of book. The fact is I was losing money every month and had to make a change.
So I went back to Georgia for the holidays to spend time with people I love and to regroup. I knew that acquiring a home to tow would help solve some of the issues I was experiencing, but I didn't know how I was going to pull it off financially. Through coincidental perfection, that need was met during the week I was back in GA. I'm grateful to be writing this post while sitting in my new (to me) travel trailer that I now call home.
I also made a decision that I needed to find a longer term spot to set up shop. I decided that New Orleans was my best bet at this time of the year, so I headed out on January 3rd to find a way to make it in one of the greatest cities in the world.
Nothing was easy in the Big Easy on the first weekend. It was a rare 29 degrees and everyone was indoors, but I was determined to get out there. I found a spot to set up at The Art Garage and then the next couple of nights in the courtyard at Second Line Antiques in the French Quarter. I was ill prepared but I got through it with the help of my new compadres, the badasses who make their living selling art on the streets of this city. There were no rivals, only allies in the courtyard on Decatur Street. They welcomed me with open arms and bent over backwards to let me know that I had a home here if I desired.
And I do have a desire to make this city my home, at least part of the year. So for now, I'm going to stay right here and really explore this place that I've loved since I was a child. All of the people that I want to talk to for the next part of the project are here waiting to share their stories with me.
Plus, I get to talk to people about The Hidden South from all over the world on a daily basis. New Zealand, Australia, France, Germany, Japan, Brazil... anywhere and everywhere, and they come right to me. Strangers come to my table and give me unexpected gifts like coonskin caps, metal monkeys, and loving embraces. This place is well with my soul. So I'll sit here in the Quarter and watch the books find their way to every corner of the globe until it's time for me to move on to the next city.