Fall never arrives all at once, but suddenly you notice the trees swaying and leaves shivering. Still, it’s too hot to go out during the early afternoons. We’ll have to wait until October or November to actually call it Fall. The other day I went out around four, usually still peak time for sun’s trickery. But by the time I arrived to Washington Park, the sun had simmered down and there was the softest breeze to remind me of the first weeks when I moved to New Orleans. It was breezy and rainy then and I was wearing my raincoat everyday.
When did I start surveying? It feels so long ago. The summer has dragged on for too long, and there’s no winter coming. I’m not sure if I ever wrote about my surveying experience with Fund 17. I might have mentioned it in passing or if something drastic happened while I was out there. But for the most part, I’ve been going out into the street, knocking on people’s door since May. At first I walked closer to St. Bernard, passing streets like Roman, Annette, New Orleans, Aubry―side streets that I usually never biked or walked through except for Roman. I felt out of place most of the time. A girl wearing a teal shirt with Fund 17 written on the front and a clipboard. At first I didn’t have a shirt, since we were just getting started, but they gave me a name tag. Walking alongside broken sidewalks and underneath palmetto trees, I saw abandoned homes, loose houses about to fall, houses that had let themselves go to nature with weeds growing in and out. But there were also blocks with colorful houses that people lived in or homes that were being fixed, and sometimes a person would be sitting on the porch waving at me. In most cases when I knocked no one answered, and that was because no one was home, they were sleeping (if it was early afternoon), or the house had been abandoned. One time on Roman I stopped by a house and knocked a couple of times. I noticed one of the windows were broken. A car stopped by and the girl inside told me the people had left for several months. In some instances neighbors would say, “No one has lived there for a while.” Whenever someone asked me what I was doing, I told them I was doing surveys for a non-profit that gives one-on-one assistance to small businesses owners. Some people were interested and asked for more information, so I talked to them and gave them a flyer. They didn’t have a business, but they were interested in starting one or knew someone that would. People were usually friendly and said hello. Here and there I got stares as if saying, “ You sure you want to be walking around here.” On those quiet streets behind St. Bernard, I often shrank thinking something could happen to me. Sometimes there was no one around, not a single person on their porch, not a sound except for crows. I was happy when someone answered the door even if they did not want to answer the questionnaire, they were there, others had a story about starting a business that never took off, or they did have one but they never called it that. “Oh you mean that.” It was just something they did on the side like fixing cars, construction or selling food at festivals. I was happy to see families or hear music on the street, because then I knew I was not alone.
Lady in pink
A lady wearing white sandals with white socks enters the Japanese bookstore; she hopped out of a cartoon—a missing person’s ad, wearing a pink, pink suit and blond short hair, through the door she walked, talking to someone, debating with herself “if so, if not, if not, why?” “But why?”
Her bulging eyes throw tears. Big tears. She doesn’t want her mother’s arms. She just wants to walk alone on a moving train. And to strangers who want to help, she says “No!” I won’t be put down. I’ll yell if anyone else tries to help. Now she’s calm with her big quiet eyes, eating her chocolate as if nothing ever happened. She’s watching the time go by like a good girl. No one would ever know how she was just five minutes ago.
A group of old guys playing cards. What are they playing? Encircled around a table, and in the middle is a deck of cards. Each player takes a card. Their words sound Italian. Two are wearing suits, gray and brown. The others have slacks and white button ups shirts that have been loosened at the top. It’s summer. The fancy one wears a blue, silvery suit with a handkerchief in his pocket. Another friend approaches, and they greet him informally– maybe it’s slavic. Their voices are sometimes murmurs; old men of the sea, who speak about how much fish they would catch, and they have a slight crag in their throats. The last friend, sits on the outskirts of the circle, watching the game intently.