It had been 2 days since Owen's 2nd degree initiation. On the Thursday before initiation as Nola was preparing him, he had done his best to talk her out of the break. But as she left, Nola had insisted that tradition dictated they not see each other. It was torture for him. He remembered the time she had gone to
when she had to skip a week for a performance at her daughter's school. But this was worse than it had been in the
past. She had warned him that he might
feel a little strange after 2nd degree.
She had promised that it would pass as he got used to his new status.
But what he felt, other than an intense desire to stand or sit up straight, was
an almost magnetic draw to her that was more intense than it had been before. And
as he thought about it, the draw had been there since he’d first met her. Houston
Nola was feeling it too. The process of initiating someone to 2nd degree required significant preparation. It involved passing part of yourself to your initiate. And the initiator could feel the empty space left behind. The day after her 2nd degree initiation she had been sitting outside trying to understand. She was struggling to understand why immediately after her initiation she had dreamed of her dead father, why she was feeling sad for the lost, so much so that she had cried over it which was something she hadn’t done in more than a decade. Raven had approached her and asked her how she was doing. Only after she explained what she was feeling and her confusion about it did Raven nod and comfort her by explaining her 2nd initiator had suffered the loss of a parent not long before he initiated her. He had then smiled and said that there was no doubt that the initiation had been successful because what she was feeling was proof that something had been passed to her. There had been no way for Nola to know about her initiator's mother death little over a month before her initiation and half a continent away. He said that the 3rd degrees had talked among themselves and even considered postponing her initiation but decided to go through with it. Raven had promised her feelings would pass and they had. She had been counseled by Raven that it was better, even without this twist, if the initiate and the 2nd degree initiator did not see each other immediately after initiation. So it had been easier to resist Owen's pleas because she was heeding Raven’s advice.
Owen was on
late in the afternoon. He had 2 potential renovation jobs uptown and had spent
the day with owners going over what they thought they wanted and what they
could actually afford. He had managed to have lunch in between clients but was
feeling low and slow. He seriously needed caffeine if he was going to get a
draft of what he had discussed with the clients down on paper today. He stopped
at PJ's Coffee for a large granita, an iced coffee slushy, cold, sweet and
extremely caffeinated. He was walking back to his truck when the window display
of the store next to the coffee shop caught his eye.
There were old fashioned toys, a no hurricanes flag: a hurricane symbol with the universal red circle with a slash over it, the Chocolate City Flag: chocolate brown background, white fleur de lis and a number of Katrina bits of jewelry: a hurricane symbol, fleur de lis charms & earrings. But what stopped him in his tracks was a silver charm that said: NOLA. The NO was on top of the LA inside an open silver square. He went into the store.
"Can I help you sir?"
"I'd like to look at the NOLA charm you have in the window."
"Sure." And the clerk pulled it out of the case and set it on the top of the display cabinet. "It's sterling silver and made by a local artist. We're the only store carrying it."
"I'd like to buy one."
"Ohhhkay, what kind of chain would you like?"
"Yes, we have different styles and different lengths."
And Owen realized that he hadn't ever really purchased jewelry for a woman without being told specifically by the woman what she wanted.
"Oh, Ok how do you decide on length?"
"Well you need to decide how far up or down you want the charm to sit."
And the clerk realized that Owen still wasn't sure. "Take a look that this display. Shortest 14 inch chains will cause the charm to sit up high on the neck. Others can see it but the often the person wearing the charm can not.
Longest 20 inch chains will cause the charm to sit lower on the neck. This allows the wearer to see the charm.”
He wanted Nola to be able to see the charm. "Oh, then I want the longest chain."
"Ok. Now all you have to do is pick from the styles. We have these, which look a bit like dog tag chains."
"Not that one."
"And these box chains that I think go well with the square around the NOLA. Or a smooth cable chain with the lobster clasp, very sturdy. Or these light chains that are less expensive, but not as sturdy."
"I'll take the cable chain."
"Ok, Shall I gift wrap it for you?"
And less than 15 minutes after he walked into the store he walked out with a present for Nola.
"Well son, you've never done that before."
And Owen looked down at the bag in his hand, "I know."
"What made you do it this time?"
"I don't know. I saw the NOLA and thought of Nola and wanted to see it around her neck and to have her think about me when she wears it. It just happened."
And he thought... must be Settrano's influence.
It would be another 10 days before he saw Nola.
Eric was arriving tomorrow. He was glad for the break in the basketball training schedule. He had finally convinced his mom and dad to let him come back to
. He was
after all now 14 and a soon to be freshman. It was his first time traveling
alone. His parents would put him on the
plane and his uncle would meet him in New
Orleans . It had been easier than he thought it would
be to convince them to let him go. He
was sure the visit in May had helped. It
seemed that his whole family had relaxed about the fact that his favorite uncle
had moved to PostKatrina New Orleans. New
To Eric the city was wild and exotic. It was so unlike anything he’d seen before. He essentially lived in the country. But he’d been to
York a number of times so didn’t feel like a big city. It was tropical.
And he thought about his uncle’s pool and being able to swim everyday and
smiled. He couldn’t wait. One of the things he loved about his uncle
was that he had never been treated like a kid.
Uncle Owen always talked to him like an equal. New
Owen saw Eric. Had the kid gotten taller? And then he remembered being that age and his mother complaining that she was buying new clothes every 3 months.
Eric saw him and broke into a grin.
Owen keyed up Stella’s phone number and waited.
“Hey Uncle Owen!”
Owen grinned just like the kid, then said, “I’m calling your mother. Tell her you’re here and ok. Then hand the phone back to me.” And he raised his eyebrows as if to say, Got it? And Eric nodded. Owen pressed the button and gave Eric the phone. Stella answered on the first ring,
Eric rolled his eyes and said, “Hey Mom.”
“So you made the plane switch ok?” She had intentionally chosen the smaller city of
instead of Atlanta, or DC. Chicago
“Ok. You’re ok?”
And he heard her sigh before she said, “Have fun.”
“Ok mom. Here’s Uncle Owen.” and he handed the phone to his uncle.
“Owen… He better come back in one piece.” Then she laughed. “I know you all will have fun. Please try to get him to call me sometime in the middle of the week. And remember he’s 14 and thinks he’s 24.”
Owen smiled. “I’ll remember Stella. We’ll be good. I won’t risk anything happening to Abby’s only grandson.” And they both laughed before he hung up.
Owen looked to Eric and said, “One down. One to go. Let’s walk to baggage claim.”
Eric nodded Ok but asked. “One to go?”
“I promised to call your Dad.”
Eric wrinkled his forehead. “Dad?”
Owen nodded, “Yep. I promised to give him an early warning of how the phone call with your mom went so that he will know what to expect when he gets home.”
Eric laughed and they went down the escalator to baggage claim.
The found the right carousel and Owen made the second phone call.
“Hey Owen. He’s there?”
“How did it go with Stella?”
“Fine. I promised not to let anything happen to Abby’s only grandson and she laughed.”
And Ryan laughed and said. “Ok, that’s sounds promising. Thanks man.”
“Have fun with the kid.”
“We’ll do our best. Want to talk to him?”
“Nah. He’ll tell me all about it when he gets home.” Owen chuckled and they both hung up.
Eric saw his bag and grabbed it. Owen let him handle it on his own and they made their way to the truck.
“Me too. Actually mom says I’m always hungry.”
“Well what would you like to eat?”
“Seafood. Shrimp, Crabs.”
“I know just the place. We can pick up the food and have lunch poolside.”
Eric grinned “Perfect.”