Louisiana / New Orleans, 1

Driving through most of Louisiana somewhere between 1AM – 4AM was a surreal experience. The town of Sulphur is first to be driven through, and Route 10 is situated on the periphery of the city, surrounded by extended clusters of development, various industry and oil refineries. At night, this all looks like a lively metropolis, with groups of towers and lights and roads quickly cutting off into the mess: For instance, a dark floor of lights is pulled up, forming towering amorphous extrusions speckled with spots of iridescent yellow holes; an uncertain brightness wants release, and a blackness of nothing wants to contain. But these towers are nothing like that. It’s not about light escaping darkness. It’s about oil and industry and teeming, swirling nefarious activities, with a sharpened, physical, geometrical existence, highlighted with artificial contours.

Much of Route 10 bridges vast swampland, and the highway has no exits during these sections. After an hour or so of driving into complete darkness, save for a few signs and reflector lines on the road, the lights of New Orleans emerged on the horizon. At this point I descended into a some of the thickest fog I’ve ever experienced. I quickly slowed from 70MPH to 40MPH; if I had been driving toward a brick wall, let alone a quick turn in the road, I wouldn’t have known. Continuing on, the glowing light of the city occupied much of what I saw, and silhouettes of iron swamp trees and dead metal towers emerged in the translucent fog—nighttime black objects travelling through a land of dirty liquid frosted glass.

I finally found my way through the city at 5AM via a maze of terrible signage, twisted roads and unidentified one-ways. At one point I was searching for a road which led me under a massive overpass, which then made me realise I was in fact not even on a road anymore, but instead a dirt path… Time to turn around.

My destination on that still-dark early morning was an Episcopal church, in which there was a 29-hour non-stop Bach celebration. Oddly enough, this was indeed happening. (It being, you know, New Orleans, 5AM, and my first 2 hours in the city.) Anyhow, I parked my car and slowly walked down a very quiet road, toward the church. The doors were ajar, and I could hear music. It was a beautiful church, circa late-1800s, and the interior was constructed of a dark, reddish wood. Shadows sat in corners and the floors creaked as I entered the nave of the church. The pews were spotted with approximately 14 quiet people. A harpist was on stage, and he played the most beautiful music. Completely complex with an easy serenity. I found my friend there, startled a bit by my arrival, and we sat and listened for a while. Morning birds could be heard outside.


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