Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The Big Easy, revisited...

I have been to New Orleans several times throughout my life - I remember as a baby going over the old Lake Bridge - with the water lapping from the Ponchatrain at the sides of the railing, an angry brown soup spilling over the white concrete - that bridge is gone now, but I went back again a couple of times in college, driving down the street right behind a Mardi Gras parade with the sun roof open, then again on my honeymoon for a day with Uncle Jugo, and to go by the trailer to visit my Papa and Mama proud with my new bride, again I went when Papa died, and we put him to rest in a simple grave in St. Bernard - I went with my friends after ten years of marriage to celebrate with them, to enjoy New Orleans and the debauchery it had to offer, and after I lost my job in Kansas City - as a much needed break from a hectic forced move and multiple months of separation - and most recently, I went three days after the divorce was finalized, with a new love, looking for a new place, maybe a new start - and I found what I was looking for - I found what New Orleans has always been good for - a new start, a new feeling of being, a refreshing and tiring dip in the well of the best and worst that humans have to offer -

We stood together in Jackson Square, and looked at the cathedral - we went inside and lit votives for those and said our simple agnostic prayers - quietly - we knelt in our pew, we stared at what man has to look for in trying to find something deeper and majestic in that cathedral.  We sat on a rickety street car, and strolled through the garden district, picked up pieces of slate older than we were, pieces of sidewalks that had been worn smooth by millions of feet for hundreds of years.  We went into the resting place of my family, and we cried and remembered, and respected those who had come before us, and those who would come after us.  We sat in Sing Sing and listened the music of the band play loud and simple, just pure music and smiles.  We watched the college kids locked in a kiss have a hard time keep their liquor love from shining through.  We sat and watched the oracle flip tarot cards and read our future, me, the death card - the fear of change - prevalent right behind the Prince of Pentacles - he said something that I did not quite hear in my booze enhanced awe, but we listened and giggled and asked our questions.  We bought miniature gumball machines and beignet boxes, and moved from bar to bar seeking out a darker, louder music venue, and stayed away from those well lit daiquiri joints that took over after Katrina.  We sat and ate pastry and had strong coffee with chickory ast the Natchez played the steam organ in the background.  We got lost amidst the quarter, weaving down the side streets, hiding with those folks who did not want to be noticed, who wanted to be lost and inebriated in everything that old city has to offer.

Knowing why that city has always beckoned me to come, invited me to get lost somewhere in its streets, not fully understanding why it is what it is to me has been difficult - the woman in the picture above said something to me, she noticed, and it made sense, "When you are looking - you are looking for this - I can see it" - and she is right - there is no place like New Orleans.  There is no other place to be when you are there - it has its drawbacks, it has its problems, but it is New Orleans - and the mystic that fills that town, the voodoo, catholic filled energy, the people, the lust for life or death or whatever - that city fills me with what I search for when I stumble down the streets of downtown Seattle, Portland, Kansas City,St. Louis, where ever - when you have a feeling that you belong - you just have a feeling that you belong.

This weekend was the Big Easy - the hardest parts are done.  There are going to be more difficult parts ahead - there are going to be tough choices and the need to decide.  There are still difficult emotions to work through and push through and come to some conclusion with- but the Big Easy was just what it needed to be - a beautiful woman on my arm, a smile and a dance, some blues, and some piece of mind that there is a place where I do belong - and someone that I belong with -

The city has not lost its charm and draw to me after this many years, and I was lucky enough to share that this week with someone who I hope enjoyed it - and was able to breathe in what I am - a little run down, a little extreme, a little charming, a little confusing - but full of love for what it is that makes me -

I am going back to New Orleans - not to mark any other occassion - but because that place is a place I love - and there is no sense in staying away from those things that you love.

Until next time.


No comments: