Last weekend was perfect.
Despite plane cancellations and flight delays, I made it into New Orleans late Friday night. We dropped my bags off at his apartment, and went out for a drink. We talked late and came back and crashed.
Saturday, I got a glimpse into life in New Orleans--not the touristy spots, which we skirted with all the aplomb of a native, but rather his favorite places: the park where he goes to run, a nice street full of shops and excellent restaurants and locals, the "fly," a riverside park where we basked in the sun, the zoo...I didn't realize how much we had been outside until we went back to change for dinner and I discovered a perfect V-shaped shadow around my neck where my t-shirt's negative was imprinted in sunburn. We went to see Lake Pontchartrain as the sun set and then it was dinner at a cute creperie followed by ice cream. The night finished with a long conversation over a mint julep (me) and a sazerac (him) at a beautiful hotel that looked like it belonged in Gone with the Wind and had a flowery garden terrace for loitering.
Sunday, we woke early and met up with his classmates to go tubing and camping. I put on sunscreen but neglected my legs, and the end of the day saw that my anterior legs were tomato-colored (even the backs of my feet and hands). That evening we cooked out, the whole group together, and sat around the campfire telling stories and saying things we were thankful for and listening.
I saw two shooting stars. We found constellations using smartphone apps and tried to remember misty myths about heroes and hunters and gorgons. When we went to bed, there were five of us in our tent and I really didn't sleep at all, listening to bullfrogs and four different breathing rhythms and fidgeting sleepers.
Monday we took time breaking camp. When we got back to New Orleans it was shower and nap time, the perfect way to spend the afternoon.
We had dinner with his roommate and his roommate's girlfriend, then wandered a little more in the air heavy with summer temperatures and southern flowers. We met up with some of his friends at an Irish bar and racked our brains about trivial knowledge.
Tuesday, we were up early and he dropped me off at the airport. We hugged goodbye and I could hardly believe that three and a half days were over already. The miles to home stretched before me like a lament, a heaviness that sank into the pit of my stomach and stayed there despite the defiance of gravity by the plane. In my seat, I closed my eyes and could remember every sun-kissed moment, could feel it in the tender sunburn on my legs. In remembering I dozed off, pleasantly deluded that I was still there.