A Dallas Photographer's CouchSurfing Adventure to the Big Easy and Back
Ed FitzGerald greeted us through retro half-framed glasses and a scruffy beard. He wore a light jean button up with khaki pants, and was the kind of guy who had a collection of fedoras and smoked out of a pipe. The walls of his small apartment held art he had bought at the Angola Prison Rodeo, and a giant brightly colored painting with the words "winner's bitch" in the bottom left corner.
All photos by Stephanie Embree
After having dinner, we set off with Ed, his dog JP, and two of his friends to explore Natitoches. We drove through a drive thru daiquiri station, which is apparently a huge trend in Louisiana, and walked around downtown listening to Ed talk about the history behind the two story homes with the wrap around porches. It was a calm night filled with conversation, climbing trees, and Trivial Pursuit questions. But there were some awkward moments.
While Ed was friendly and I was accustomed to talking to strangers, being allowed to sleep in someone's home made me feel like I had to become instant friends with them. But by the time we settled in, and fell asleep on Ed's dark green floral couch, I was beginning to feel CouchSurfing growing on me.
The next morning we said our goodbyes and headed to New Orleans. Our host there had lost interest in the local tourist attractions, so we ventured out on our own and spent the day exploring the French Quarter, Bourbon Street, and the one-of-a-kind locals.
Our second host, Rachel Roberts, lived behind the house where they filmed the last Exorcist movie. She had faded teal hair, a vintage style, and a tattoo of a whale and waves on her ankle. Her studio apartment doesn't have any doors, and came together with mixed-and-matched pieces of antique furniture. After watching the end of Time Traveler's Wife we went to Cowbell, one of the local restaurants, and then met up with Rachel's boyfriend at a local bar.
The second night was easier than the first. We tossed around jokes and I felt like I had gained enough ground with Rachel to earn a place on her burnt orange pullout sofa. I even felt a little at home when we settled in a few feet from each other at the end of the night. As I woke up the next morning and packed my car for the ride home, I realized I was going to miss this.
I'm not sure if I was reluctant to leave Rachel's home specifically, or just regretted having to drive back into a life of schoolwork and responsibilities. But the more I think back on how I fell asleep counting Ed's many hats, or the night we sat listening to stories in Rachel's backyard as she smoked a cigarette, the more I want to go back.