When I was in Louisiana recently to visit with my folks, there was an afternoon when a sitter came by for a few hours and I had a chance to get out of the house. By then, I was in the grip of a raging cabin fever, and I didn't care where I went, at long as it was anywhere else.
I took my mother's car, which nobody had been using, and headed into town. I had no destination. I'd thought about going to the state capitol grounds, a place of fond memories, but there was a big demonstration going on, teachers unhappy with the Governor, so I decided against that.
What I wound up doing instead was driving around and looking at places where my wife and I had lived before we moved away.
It was a warm spring day, high eighties, and the first place I stopped was the first house my wife and I moved into when we got married.
It looks better now than it did then. It is a single-story shotgun house–so called because you could fire a shotgun through the front door and it would hit the back door, an oblong rectangular box. It was more than a hundred years old at the time (1966), and in bad repair.
We rented it, and spent the month before our wedding cleaning, painting, and getting it ready. The kitchen was a horrible dark green, and wound up canary-yellow. The foundation in the back had started to crumble an there was a pronounced tilt from the front to rear. Drop a ball in the hall by the front door, it would roll all the way to the kitchen.
It cost $65 a month. It was downtown, a few miles from LSU. We were both in college there, and I rode my ten-speed bike to school and to my evening job, at the Avis Rent a Car and hotel gift shop most days. After a couple of months, I got a little Harley motorcycle, a two-cycle Pacer, aka Hummer.
Days off, I spent working on my wife's car, a 1960 Ford Falcon that always had something wrong with it.
We were married in November, had a short honeymoon visiting friends in New Orleans, and lived there until the following summer, whereupon we moved to Los Angeles so I could undertake the study of karate. Sold or gave away all our furniture, found our young dog a home in the country, packed everything else into three large trunks, and flew away.
I have fond memories of that house. The parakeet who thought he was tougher than the dog, and turned out not to be; our first Christmas as a couple. The conception of our son. The banana tree out back. The crepe myrtle out by the street. Being locked out and worried that my bride was in trouble and kicking a hole in the front door ...
For a time, the place was a law office, owned by a guy we knew. I haven't seen the house since we moved to Portland in 1978, and you really can't go home again; however, it was a place to visit on my ramble and I was glad to see it was still there, a hundred and fifty years of hurricanes notwithstanding.