It was two Thanksgivings ago that we drove B from the Tennesee Valley to the Big Easy. He would only be staying one of the three nights we would be there before flying home to his mom in Colorado that next morning.
By the time we managed our way through the Thanksgiving rush of the other early arriving Bayou Classic attendees, the sun was already setting. We checked into our hotel room in the DoubleTree, our room would be on the seventh floor, a decent enough view over the rooftops along Canal Street.
I remembered the excitement when I first stepped off that train to New Orleans, and the anticipation of that excitement built within me for B. I remembered the first time my eyes explored the aged mortar of the bricks, the crackling paints of the window sills, and the lightly rusted ladders which swing over the rooftops. There were great stories crooning through the withering atmosphere, brass vibrations from its past felt immortalized under my feet. Oh to see his face!
Mr. R was still pulling the car around and I could no longer refrain, “do you know where you are B?”
My six-year-old stepson shot me an eye roll and a sigh after being forced to listen to Crash Course YouTube Videos on American History alone in the backseat of a minivan for an entire day.
Still, his face was unchanged, but I stood with proud excitement. All he had to do was see the soul to understand. I drew back the muted gray curtains to reveal a series of ragtime rooftops and from that window, my soul did leap and then gambol. Chim-chim-cher-ee took me away as I fondled each measure of classical balcony gardens, each instrumental mural that crawled up the walls, each flat rooftop scattered along the entire scale of my horizon.
I smiled with pride as I whirled behind me to find B’s face as flat as the dull gray walls of our chamber. Perhaps I was blocking his view. I reached for his hand and careened his stance so he could press his face against the glass, but still, nothing. “Don’t you see the bebop rhythm,” I wanted to cry out.
It was disappointing, to say the least, and I worried if he would find any joy in this trip at all.
That next morning we wondered if we would be able to divert this fumble in our final quarter of B’s short visit or would we be just running down the clock? With the strategic start of sugary beignets, the relay began as we made a mad dash through Jackson Square, along the canal, and a quick sprint through the Riverwalk. We might have scored a few points here and there from B, but nothing seemed to quite hit this experience out of the park.
In the final countdown, we made our way back to the hotel where I would stay with our team of friends we always traveled here with each and every year while Mr. R drove B to the airport. In the hotel lobby, we took a quick recess, sitting and visiting around the table as the topic of football of course came into play. One of our friends who heard B was from Colorado turned to him and said, “Did you know this is where Peyton Manning calls home? He grew up here, learned to play football here, and his family lives here because his daddy was at one time a quarterback here.”
Ben’s eye’s lit up, and there it was, B was feeling that excitement. His beloved hero called this home? Oh to see his face!