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Let’s Eat Crawfish and Die (Going to Houston)

April 22, 2016

After a three and a half hour drive, I found Mr. Houston’s place easily and he met me in the parking lot and kissed me warmly. He lived in a cute, modest town house in midtown. He made me Indian food and we ate with our hands sitting on the floor of his balcony, a light rain sprinkling our legs.

It was easy and comfortable as it had been at my place. I took a much needed shower and we watched movies and chilled on his couch.

The next day he made me the world’s most horrible cup of coffee. Some instant bullshit that I barely got down my throat. He had chai tea. We decided to go see the Rothko Chapel, near by. I was flooded with memories as we drove up and I saw the bench by the reflecting pool, a wall of bamboo behind it where my ex husband, Mr. K had taken one of my favorite photographs of my son and I. I was looking right into the camera, my arms around Shawn in one of his rare moments of stillness.

But the sculpture was missing. I wondered if I had imagined it there. Maybe it was somewhere else.

We went into the silent chapel, the walls flanked with Rothko’s paintings, large canvases of dark paint, a purple black with subtle, slightly lighter borders around them. I remember how ridiculous I thought they were when I was 19, visiting Houston with my Contemporary Art History class.

There were a few people meditating and Mr. Houston and I whispered observations and jokes to each other, peppering our shushed words with light kisses.

Walking out, I asked about the missing sculpture. It was away for restoration. The pool seemed small and empty without it.

Mr. Houston suggested we sit on a bench and savor the moment. We sad together, watching a couple of boys play with nerf guns on the lawn. He played a song on his phone and held my hand.

He searched for things to do on his phone and discovered there was a Japanese festival not far away. He had promised me crawfish, so we headed off in search of a grocery store that might be boiling them on site.

In the car, we listened to news reports of earthquakes in Japan and Ecuador.

“The world’s coming to an end,” he said. “Let’s eat crawfish and die!”

We both laughed. He had an easy and delightful laugh.

It took a while to find one, but we found a grocery store with crawfish, picked up some beer, water, wet wipes and paper towels and went off in search of a spot to eat.

He headed to the Japanese festival but it was predictably crowded, roads were closed and there was no parking in sight. He kept apologizing for taking so long but I just put my feet up on the dashboard, played my music and said, “It’s no problem, boo boo.”

We finally found a spot and grabbed all the supplies and started walking. He kept walking further and further and I didn’t know where he was headed.

“Are you getting annoyed?” he asked. “Not at all,” I said. “I’m sorry it’s taking so long,” he said again. “Point me to where to we’re going. Give me a goal,” I said, getting a little tired and hungry. He pointed to a group of picnic tables ahead. “Ok, I got this.” I said, wishing I had worn my ratty converse in lieu of cute flats.

Finally we sat down in front of a small pond with picturesque landscaping. Families were playing and barbecuing nearby. We ate crawfish and drank beer and talked for a long time. It was lovely. I was getting a little tipsy. He asked if I wanted to go to the festival or find a little place to sit and have more beer.

“You know what I really want to do?” I said. “Go buy some spray paint and spray graffitti on buildings,” I said, expecting the notion to be ridiculous to him.

“Let’s do it,” he replied. He called my bluff. I had to back down and explain to him that I’m really full of shit most of time.

“Maybe you just need someone to push you to really do the things you think are crazy ideas.”

It was a frightening idea. My slightly rebellious streak is kept well in check by my need for approval and fear of authority or “getting in trouble.”

“What’s the worse that could happen?” he asked laughing. “They’re not going to put you in jail and you can just drive back to Lafayette.”

I was too chicken to take him up on it. So, we went to one his favorite bars instead. We ordered beers, sat on the patio under a light mist and talked for a couple of hours.

I was supposed to drive back that evening but I was having too much to drink. I needed a nap. He had been coaxing me to stay until the morning. I didn’t want the stress of getting up at 4am and driving three hours but driving home that evening was becoming increasingly unlikely.

We went back to his place and it started raining harder. Before we knew it, our phones were buzzing with national weather service alerts about flash flooding. He laid down with me in his bed and I decided to set an alarm for 3am and sleep for a while.

“Stay here boo boo,” he cooed to me, holding me tight against his body and kissing my neck.

The rain continued and his bedroom was illuminated with lighting and shaken by thunder. I decided to call in sick and drive back Monday. I texted my boss and announced that I was free. He was elated.

We slept for about 10 hours, lazily getting up around 10am. I tried to tweak the instant coffee to no avail. It was horrible. I teased him for not providing me with acceptable coffee. I realized the fatigue of the previous day was more than the beer, it was caffeine withdrawals. I took a shower and he drove me around in search of some decent joe.

All the Starbucks were closed because of the increasingly serious flooding. Mr. Houston often made fun of Lafayette, so I returned the jest by accusing Houston’s Starbucks of being pussies, closing because of a little rain. I settled for some gas station brew, filing their largest cup. I couldn’t wait to feel the caffeine flowing through my veins, elevating my already too fast heart beat.

He wanted me to stay until the afternoon, but I had to get home. He looked at me with sad eyes as I drove away from him in the rain.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

It was a lovely visit. He was like the anti-Mr. K. Never tense, never rattled. Always smiling and laughing. Affectionate and caring.

He was full of mixed signals but I held fast to the wall I had constructed around my heart.

The moment I realized he would not be a possibility for any kind of monogamous relationship, I had placed my heart out of his reach. He wasn’t going to Pumpkin Patch me. During my visit, he seemed to want to me to put my guard down. He hinted and cajoled. He said lovely things to me, just like Pumpkin Patch had. He wanted me to want him or to at least express more desire for him, I think.

I wasn’t budging. I would kiss him, make love to him, hold him and look into his eyes. But I was not going to let my heart fall again. I was not going to have any hope that we could be a couple. I refused to need him.

He joked about various matches on various dating apps, both his and mine. When I would hear the familiar tone of a Tinder message, I would look at him and say, “Go ahead, answer it. Do what you gotta do boo boo.”

I wasn’t going to turn Tinder on in Houston. That’s all I needed was another unavailable man, 3 hours away. Until I got a notice that I had been super-liked by someone. I told him this and we sat together watching the pictures come up as I hit the x button over and over and we laughed. I did hit the heart button a couple of times. There were two pictures that  were just too cute to say no to and I immediately matched with a young Indian guy. Mr. Houston found this very amusing and encouraged me to converse with him. He was entertained.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Festival International de Louisiane is this weekend. It’s a large festival centered around music from French speaking countries. It’s Lafayette’s largest festival and people from all over the country and world descend on our little city. He said he’s coming. He supposed to drive here Friday night. But he’s cancelled on me before, so I’m not counting on it until I see him at my door.

It will probably be another lovely weekend. I’ll enjoy his company. We’ll drink and laugh and have sex and hold each other and then he’ll go back to playing with his multiple dating apps and I’ll be looking around wondering where my Mr. Moon is.

 

 

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