Not in your heart
Not in your head
Not in your modem
Not in your bed
Oh, and not in New Orleans, either

I think that about covers it. My friend Mike is thinking seriously about buying a house here, has the plans and the money and the foreknowledge, being an architect, of what he's getting into, literally. My friend Evonne has decided to stay in DC after all, despite her original plans for Madison, Wisconsin, after her wedding next month. My other friend Steve wants to have his own production company and makes Bananas Foster for a girlfriend, he says, has made his life a living hell. Sandi's still trying to get pregnant. All the women in my church are having problems that are bearing down on their husbands, but they're all hanging in there, as if hanging in there were a permanent state of mind. Rhonda's off to college. My own parents are moving back to our hometown to retire and die, and that seems even more than what I'm doing. I'm just sitting here, trying to figure myself out, and I'm getting bored from all the effort.

I rented some movies I'll likely not put a dent in tonight, bought some wine which is already half gone from the bottle, and again I'm at the screen, noding.

I have worked so hard at being uncomfortable here that as I see ways I could be comfortable, even happy, I wince inside. No, I say, I can't give in. Must get out. That's the goal, and it's been the goal for years. Do not get attached. Do not fall in love. Try not to make too many mistakes, try to not get involved with anyone I might miss when I do finally leave. It has been a lonely and miraculous four years. I have grown and changed addresses more than I do my shoes (which always seem to last longer by comparison), I have edged out and hardened, I have aged and weathered. I can see it in my face.

And why now should I be surprised that I am so unhappy, that while I've made all these heartless efforts at isolation the people around me seem to be going somewhere, doing with their lives what has come to them as natural? Because I am waiting for my life to begin, like an ass. I'm putting off what would normally be life for the time when I leave this place, when I have the chance to do it the way I wanted to from the beginning. I wasn't supposed to be in New Orleans. It was a mistake, the whole thing. The whole relationship that brought me here. It was my own fault that I didn't just turn around and leave, that I thought I could make the best of it.

And it's hard to believe after all these years
It still gives you pain and it still brings tears
And you feel like a fool
Because in spite of your rules
You've got a memory
from the song Code Of Silence, by Billy Joel

For the longest time, I believed that the only way I felt that I was intended to stay in New Orleans was if I really fell in love. I realize now how stupid a thing that is to hold out for, to balance your future residence on that one thing. But I guess I believed that if I could find love here, the rest of life would fall into place, for love to me is the center of everything, the center of my being. Of course, that would require letting someone fall in love with me, which has really yet to happen. So it's a self unfulfilling prophecy, the best one for me so far, and has lasted longer than I imagined.

And so I think the answer is always leaving, that the reasons are standing right in front of me, all based on my preferences: the heat, the Southern hospitality farce, the lack of job appeal for what I should be doing with my education, the decadence that had all but eaten me alive. I don't know what the answer is anymore. I think I even forgot the questions. But I still am not comfortable here. Just because it's familiar doesn't mean it's right for me. But I'm unable to think of one thing that is.

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