A New Orleans Love Note

By 6:45 Sunday morning, both my bronchitis and my antibiotic decided I was done sleeping.  Looking out the hotel window, I see there is already a line forming at Mother’s.  It’s grey and sun is just starting to show off through the clouds towards the river.  Might as well go out and see the Quarter in a way I don’t normally see it.  Sleepy, foggy, non-Carnival time. 

Even at this time of year and even in the CBD, the wet streets smell faintly of spilled beer and broken bits of Mardi Gras beads hide in plain sight at the edges of the sidewalks. Those up are quietly going about their business of finding breakfast, making breakfast, or setting up their day.  Street entertainers are preparing their instruments and getting their tarot cards out.  Artists in Jackson Square are hanging their paintings. Passing one of the many coffee and beignet locations, a piano plays the question of whether I know what it means to miss New Orleans.  Yes.  Yes I do.
The French Market is just beginning to stir when I get there.  Vendors setting up their areas, ice thrown on the sodas, the crepe grill warming up.  In the flea market section I have to maneuver quickly around dollies full of heavy bins carrying cheaply made wares of no particular importance.  Most aren’t ready to greet the tourists who will wander through later to pick up Voodoo dolls made in China or ignore the signs asking to please not pick up the dried alligator heads, but one book seller has a nice box of old Mardi Gras doubloons to root though.  A weakness of mine, I pick out 20 that either correspond to mine or my sister’s birth year, or are sentimental favorites like Pete Fountain’s Half Fast Walking Krewe.   
After the market I wander aimlessly, slowly, up and down the streets that cross Bourbon, never able to remember the correct order of them all.  St. Ann, Dumaine, St. Peter, Toulouse…  Looking in gallery windows on Royal, stopping to try hot sauce and pralines on Decatur.  In the Royal street police station I stop in to check their NOPD vending machine and see what t-shirts they have this year.  I overhear a family of out of towners wanting something done about an aggressive panhandler.  They weren’t out and about yet on my way to the market but I see them everywhere now; beards and backpacks and dogs at their sides, in groups as numerous as the street musicians.  And why not?  If I had to be (or chose to be) a wandering vagrant, why NOT a city like New Orleans?  
Making my way back to Canal Street felt a bit like failure.  Not even noon and I was going to head back to the hotel?  But the sun had come out and I was definitely overdressed for the heat.  Maybe after a shower and lighter clothes I’d come up with an afternoon plan before my actual conference work began in the evening.  Maybe ride the streetcar down St. Charles. Then the serendipity of New Orleans happened, as it only does there.  Opening up the iPad to facebook a picture of doubloons for my sister, I see a message.  One of my Mardi Gras family just so happens to be visiting her boyfriend this weekend who lives in the Quarter.  He is having a crawfish boil and would I like to come over?  I love you New Orleans.

About deepfriedyankee

I am a parade of one. A seeker of bathtubmarys. A lover of Mardi Gras, bacon and marbles. I have the patience of a saint. A very, very flawed saint.
This entry was posted in Life, Mardi Gras, Travel and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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