(Note: It’s advisable to read the previous post, The New York City Adventure, before reading this one.)
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GETTING OFF the Greyhound bus from New York City, there I was in Nashville, Hillbilly Heaven, and where my parents had relocated three years earlier.
My father picked me up at the bus station, drove me back to their apartment, phoned my mother where she was working, and said: Brace yourself.
Those very words.
I soon had a job at a small firm that refurbished mattresses. I and another guy would drive a truck to homes and pick up tatty mattresses that would be cleaned and returned to the owners. I worked there just long enough to save money for another Greyhound ticket, back to California.
My parents were still bracing themselves when I headed west again.
The ride from Nashville was not quite so long as the earlier trip from Los Angeles to New York, but it was a long haul nonetheless. Only a few months had passed.
I got off the bus in downtown Los Angeles, and a friend from the Air Force met me. I quickly found a studio apartment in Santa Monica and a job parking cars in a Beverly Hills lot. Things went downhill fast, economically and emotionally.
Just a few weeks later, I was broke. And living in Los Angeles without a car ain’t no cakewalk. I phoned my parents and asked for bus fare. Soon I was back on a Greyhound heading east to Nashville.
Shortly after my return, I enrolled at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, but that did not last long. Nothing lasted long for me in those times.
My parents were in Nashville because my father was working on The Tennessean newspaper. Within a year after my second return, my parents moved to New Orleans. I jumped into the Rambler’s back seat, going along for the ride.
New Orleans. Now that was a place where I felt at home.
For 18 years.
Two wives, one divorce, two (almost three) degrees, the newspaper business, bars, motorcycles, airplanes, raw oysters, Dixie Beer, crawfish and ketchup, hangovers, Mardi Gras … and even more Dixie Beer. It was a city that suited me.