Thoughts and musings

Emotional unpacking

I haven’t unpacked or thrown away my moving boxes yet.

I’m afraid to.

I have moved so many times in the past sixteen years that it seems like I’ve never really unpacked. Every time I do, within months, I end up packing up again and moving again.

So as I settle into my new home in New Orleans, I find myself staring the a handful of moving boxes that I brought with me from Los Angeles. Most of my stuff is still in storage in Los Angeles until I can figure out how to get it out to New Orleans without me driving for another two weeks to get it all here. I do have some friends who have offered to help so maybe a caravan road trip wouldn’t be so bad. But still, if I can figure out how to get everything out here without driving, I’d be happy.

I got to New Orleans on December 16th and had booked two weeks at a local regional park, figuring it would take a while to find a place to live. It was cheap enough that I could probably manage a week-to-week situation if I needed to. There was also a local RV park that was affordable, though it was basically a big parking lot.

I immediately went down to Jackson Square to talk to the artists there about what they have to do in order to be able to display and sell their art there.

Artists are funny. They can either be very generous or very territorial. I found both. One guy – Tyler – was incredibly helpful and cleared up some of the mixed messages I got from other artists. I needed to apply for a permit from the city to be able to hang “on the fence” – the fence surrounding Jackson Square Park, the main area for the artists. There’s also an area behind the cathedral, which is called Pirate’s Alley. But Tyler assured me I didn’t want to sell there because nobody goes back there. It also required a permit. I spent some time walking around, watching the crowd, and he was right. Nobody goes back there.

I have filled out the permit and am waiting to hear. Apparently, they usually do a lottery and if you’re lucky, you get a permit. But Tyler and other artists told me so many artists haven’t renewed for this year that there probably won’t be a lottery. Just show up with your payment and you’re in. Crossing my fingers.

The other place I found to sell was the flea market that’s part of the French Market. The French Market is expensive and difficult to get into. But the flea market isn’t either of those things. I talked to someone at the office, brought in samples of my work, filled out some paperwork. I heard from them the other day and had to answer a million questions. They’re meeting on the 12th and should make decisions there about admitting new artists. I should know within the next week if I’m accepted.

In the meantime, Tyler and other artists assured me I could just set up my stuff on the fence without the permit. The city official comes by apparently most Fridays in the morning and he can ask you to leave. Several artists have done that, pack up, and then returned the next day. Apparently there’s no real punishment other than it can lead to you not being able to get a permit in the long run.

Almost immediately, I started setting up there on the weekends. And it’s been very successful. My geeky stuff sells almost better than it does at conventions. I’ve been adding in some more New Orleans-centric paintings like musicians, etc., but the geeky stuff far outsells that. Nobody has bothered me so I’ll keep doing this until I either get my permit or someone tells me to stop.

I had joined a couple of Facebook groups for people moving into New Orleans before I left Los Angeles. I had tried to do some scouting long distance because my friends in NOLA said they’d go look at places for me. But that proved to be frustrating and difficult. I figured I’d wait until I got here to find a place. I also figured it would take me a month or so. After all, I had no money for a deposit and barely enough for first month’s rent.

A place came up that looked decent. Right across the river from the French Quarter in a fairly good neighborhood and for $700. It was a “shotgun” house, which are kind of like a one-storey duplex. Long and narrow and very standard here. I went to look at it and liked it immediately. I talked to the woman who was renting it, explaining my situation – I could pay the first month’s rent but probably not the deposit until the end of January. We chatted some more, I met her dog, Rosie, and left, figuring she would say no.

By the time I got back to the campground, she had replied – yes. We would figure it out. I could move in on the 30th.

Um … what?

I had been in New Orleans maybe a week. I had found places to sell my art and now probably had a place to live.

I’m currently holding my breath, waiting for the other shoe to drop.

It doesn’t seem possible that I’ve been here less than a month and I’m already making money strictly on selling my art and I have a place to live. The house is long and narrow, and I have the front two rooms. So basically I have a room for a studio and my bedroom. There is a kitchen and bathroom and then my roomie is at the back of the house. And there’s a yard, which needs some work but there’s a yard. And the roomie doesn’t seem too crazy. We are friendly but really only see each other when we’re both in the kitchen. So it’s like having my own place.

I found a couple of good chairs and a good bookcase at Habitat For Humanity Restore for under $50. My friend, Edgar, is giving me his sofa and love seat because he got new ones.

The trailer is parked out front of the house and looks like it can stay there.

And Indy is very happy.

I unpacked my kitchen stuff because the roomie didn’t have much. I think the previous roommate probably had all the kitchen stuff. I filled the bookcase immediately. Can’t wait to get my big bookcase from Los Angeles.

It felt really weird to empty out Corner of the Sky. She had been my home for more than six months. She was truly home. Despite the challenges of living out of a trailer, I have to say I haven’t been happier in a long time. To have my own space, my own place, and not have to answer to anyone was bliss.

Now she sits outside, mostly empty. There are still the basics inside – the foam for the base of the bed, odds and ends in the cabinets and the galley. But pretty much empty. It made me very sad to take everything out because it felt like – I don’t know. A loss? Leaving something behind? I tell her every time I go out how much I appreciate her, so I’m hoping that when I get to take her out again, she’ll be happy.

But I have had trouble throwing out the moving boxes.

I keep waiting for the other shoe.

After all, I have moved 14 times (?) in 16 years.

Got divorced, moved in with friends for a bit while I looked for a place to live.

Moved in with Tiff.

Short time later, her neighbor was leaving the country for awhile so I sublet her place for six months.

Dad fell and got hurt, so moved in with my mother and father in Burbank. They left for Minnesota a year later and my friend moved in with me. But we couldn’t afford that place so …

We moved across the courtyard into a more affordable place. Then she left and …

I moved into another apartment in the same building. But I couldn’t afford to maintain a place alone in Los Angeles so …

Moved into a place in Glendale with someone I barely knew. Not a good situation but it was all I could afford. But then…

The universe sent me to China and I moved there for a year, which was amazing.

Came home to a new place in Pasadena, where I lived for two years. Too far away from everything, especially with a car that barely ran. Then it got overrun with mice so …

Moved in with a friend who was knee deep in a custody battle for his son (he eventually won and has his son full time), which put him way behind in his rent and we got evicted almost as soon as I moved in. So …

Moved in with another friend, which turned out to be a bad situation due to both her and the other roomie being wildly irresponsible. So …

Found somewhere else to move which immediately seemed like it would be a bad situation, but I had no choice. I had to wait three months to move in with her so …

Moved in with my wonderful friends, Colleen and David, for those few months, living in their spare room with only the necessities. Then the place fell through and I didn’t know what to do.

Thus began the Embrace The Chaos tour.

Lived in the trailer for seven months. Well, sort of. I spent six weeks back in Los Angeles staying at my friend’s place. I had access to the house, though I slept in the trailer and Indy stayed in the trailer when he wasn’t wandering around the back yard.

And now I’m here.

Afraid to throw out my moving boxes.

Because this has been too good to be true.

Or maybe this is where I’m supposed to be.

This morning, I worked out getting the couch and love seat on Thursday. I will also be getting the art table I’ve wanted for years on Thursday as well. That meant I had to finally confront the empty and almost-empty boxes. They had to go in order for me to have space for the new furniture.


What a concept. It’s been nine years since I’ve had anything more than my big bookcase and occasionally a bed. To have a house that has actual furniture that chose is hard for me to conceive.

Maybe once the furniture gets in place it’ll feel right. It does feel like home already. I feel overwhelmed with gratitude that I was able to find this place so quickly and that it felt so right so quickly.

But I am also overwhelmed with the fear that I am going to lose this home and be back to square one again.

So I took a big step today – emptied the boxes that I could and broke down all the empty ones. They’re currently sitting by the door because there are too many to put in the trash. I have to put them up on Craigslist or something and put them out for someone else to use.

And accept the fact that I am home.

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