A Death in New Orleans

My heart in broken into a million little pieces and I’ve been wandering the streets of the French Quarter and Lower Garden District collecting the shards. There’s a piece on Wilkinson, there’s a sliver in Bywater, there’s a large jagged hunk under a tree in Holt Cemetery.

What pieces I can find, I bring back to the Fairchild House. New Orleans is a strange city for a bout of depression and in spite of the festive colors and raucous atmosphere, I’m a misshapen weed at the base of a blooming and fragrant magnolia tree.

I’m supposed to be filming a movie this week, a little something I was very proud of and excited to bring to life. The setting of New Orleans wasn’t even my idea, because the story as written could be in any city, but since it was essentially someone else’s dime, the prep was made to film here.

In the end, it was no one’s dime but my own because the Over/With (née, “I Do This Because I Love You”) isn’t being filmed here in this city where I will spend the next 9 days because I have to. Alone. No cast, no crew, no film because the plug was literally pulled while I was in transit.

I don’t think I can fully express to anyone – and I’ve been trying to find the words over the last three days – how completely crushed, demoralized and gutted I feel. I have been made to feel in nothing so tangible as words but mere actions (or lack of) that my time, my money, my energy are worthless. Filming was going to begin without me in another city; apparently it was all set to go over there, while I sat here in New Orleans wondering what I did to deserve to be treated like a discarded gum wrapper.

Friends, family, co-workers – everyone was excited for me. I was on my way, they said. I was going places and it was a Very Good Thing. Yep, I was going to New Orleans to be told “these things happen” and now I can go home on the 10th (my stay here has been set in stone since March) to be recognized as a sucker, a chump, just another writer not worthy much more than last-minute smoke and misdirection.

I spent money (my own money I probably won’t see again, because why should some sucker be compensated), a good chunk of my vacation time (time I could have been at conventions networking and meeting like-minded people), not to mention my writing, my words, and my talent. I set aside deadlines, passed up projects and put professional capital on the line. What’s sitting here not making a movie netting me?

A big fat check in the Lesson Learned column with nothing to show for it.

I don’t even believe, because hindsight has  painful clarity, that it was ever going to happen in New Orleans. I handed over my faith and my trust and I feel like I’m standing on my front porch dressed up for prom, and my date just called to tell me that there was a cheaper party nowhere near me but everyone would totally Skype me in, because clearly I wanted to be there.

There are things I won’t get back – money (yeah, it’s important and precious), time (I don’t write in a Pocket Universe), and my sense that a writer’s efforts are worth something.

The actors (I’d begun to think of them as *my* actors) got the shaft, too. How many of them put off commitments and other gigs to film this little short. What about their time and effort? Except they’ll probably be paid.

Not me, though.

Doug has been great, helping me find things to smile about, taking long walks with me, including me on the things he was going to do on his own while I was filming. My friends have been incredibly supportive, being angry and heartbroken with me, being furious for me. I love them for checking up on me, asking how I’m doing, wondering if I’m okay, because this feels like a horrible, tragic death.

And it is.

A really fantastic dream was murdered and I’m here in New Orleans to bury it.

Alone.

In the French Market, a bronze version of how I feel sits in the rain.
In the French Market, a bronze version of how I feel sits in the rain.

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