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Geezer's Journal: Reinventing the self

geezerjourneyFlashback:  2010, New York City.  Yours truly was sitting in an apartment I hated, in a part of Manhattan I felt no affinity for, age sixty-five, no full-time job and no prospects for the future.  No idea how to get out of this place.  State of mind: black. The future: visions of riding the subway all through the night, disheveled, pee-stained trousers, discovered by my daughter as she gets on with some friends. 

Read an ad for a one-year visiting professor job in English at the University of New Orleans.  Applied.  Why not?  By this time, it's all rote anyway.

A week or so later, got a call from the chair of the English Department at UNO.  Chair wanted set up a phone interview with himself and his colleagues.

Another week later, after said interview, I was offered the job.

Huh?  Pick up and go?  Never having been to New Orleans.  No place to live.  And have to begin teaching in three weeks.  Remember: only a one-year appointment.  Then what?

Who knows?  But I do know one thing: sitting in that room in upper Manhattan one year from now would make me up my anti-depressant dose twenty fold.

I said yes.

Packed my car (this is the shortened version), got in, and went.

Three days, three overnight stops and 1350 miles later, I arrived in New Orleans, not knowing a solitary soul.  I pulled my car up to 729 Ursulines in the French Quarter where I would live that first year in a furnished apartment. I had found the place on the fly.

But I was feeling like I'd shed fifteen years.  I was alert, scared, charged, and suffused with wonder.  No idea what was ahead.  But I knew one incontrovertible fact.

It would all be new.  And I was through with that dingy apartment in New York City.

I was on my way to reinventing myself.

Richard Goodman is an assistant professor of creative nonfiction writing at the University of New Orleans.  He’s the author of French Dirt: The Story of a Garden in the South of France.