This is the story of the most delicious po-boy I’ve ever eaten.
After moving into my 12th house by the time I was in middle school, I still felt at home in New Orleans. I loved my mom and my brother and the homes we had together, but every year stepping off the airplane meant something so dear to me, being back in the place where I was born; the place where music, food, friends, family, and high spirits is a way of thinking. No matter your background, the city will always have this bond.
One particular summer, after the sixth grade, staying with my dad, the trip included some not so jovial bumps in the road, as usual. My parents had been divorced since before I could talk, but somehow drugs, money, court cases, and medical bills still sprang up around every corner. It was a hot, sunny day, with rain in the forecast, as there always was. We’d gotten po-boys for lunch. I got a half-and-half, fully dressed with Tabasco, no pickles (half shrimp, half oysters with lettuce, tomatoes, and mayo). I had lost the patience to stay in the house and listen to people shout about lies and money, so I took my po-boy and plopped onto the grass in the backyard. Sitting there thinking about everything going on, I couldn’t help but be taken over by waves of anger and sadness. Why all of this? Why did they have to use me? Why did I have to be different? Sitting there on such a nice day, bathed in sun and light, I’d thought of killing myself, teaching them a lesson and being done with the confusion and sadness that went along with my sexual confusion. It would have been so easy to just be done with it all. But then E2 came outside.
Now, imagine the sweetest, most patient creature on earth and it would be E2. He was our dog, a Rottweiler, Golden Retriever mix, named after my brother Erin (hence, Erin 2nd). We’d found him as a puppy, abandoned in a restaurant parking lot. Now, he was around 8 years old. He wiggled through his doggy door (a tad too small for his large body), trotted across the yard and planted himself in the grass next to me. I pet him on the head and then took the first bite from my po-boy. At that moment, the world stopped turning and everything was as it should have been. Nothing existed outside of that yard. The sunshine, the delicious crisp of the fried gulf shrimp and oysters, E2′s warm black fur; everything was perfect. I savored the rest of my po-boy giving E2 the extra bits of bread. I laid down, bathed in sun with my head on E2’s back.