The mean horn section of Everything Under the Sun by Nostalgia 77
When you hear the rapping of rain drops on your hotel window at three in the morning in New Orleans, your mind fills with stories. This is how you envision novels beginning -- the rhythm of the storm breaking the quiet of the wee hours. The stray barking dogs you hear are obviously chasing a vampire or other creature of the night. The bleating car horn is pleading with the couple locked in embrace in the middle of the street, soaked and uncaring except for the lust in each other's eyes. This is why artists, musicians, and writers come to this city and get lost. It's because when these moments arrive, it's not the putrid smell of Bourbon street or the vomiting tourist that your mind conjures. No, in the middle of a Louisiana thunderstorm, what you're reminded of is your last kiss.
New Orleans is about delighting in your senses. Walking through the French Quarter, my eyes rarely stayed focus on one thing. Look at this architecture! Look at this art! Look at that person! Look at that dog! Look at the brownness of the Mississippi! Look at those rainbow flags! Look at this market! Look at this store! Equally, I wanted to (and mostly did) taste everything. We ate at Cochon and the Butcher Shop & (s)wine Bar (combined one of the supreme highlights of the trip), Cafe du Monde, eat Restaurant, Dress It, and Bourbon House. I put rabbit, alligator, and frog's legs in my mouth. I drank delicious beverages with reckless abandon (although with not nearly the abandon of those puking on Bourbon Street at 4 in the afternoon). We heard music everywhere but also a wonderful quiet. For all the joy of bombastic street jazz bands (whether high school age or grizzled veterans), there was a special something about the silence of residential neighborhoods. As I felt the pulse of the city beneath my feet, that stillness allowed me to recognize its heart.
New Orleans is about happy accidents. Without first going the wrong direction on our way to Cochon, we wouldn't have overheard the very drunk Salem and his friends as they sing-songed their way to Emeril's with comic results. We didn't plan on spending the weekend in art galleries but constantly found ourselves in them and having the most interesting conversations about what type of art we're ready for, about New Orleans, about Uganda. Without planning, we ran into Sloane as we were leaving one of the French Quarter Fest venues (being there during French Quarter Fest at all being the first happy accident). We took a walk towards Frenchmen on a tip from a line chef at Cochon and while we didn't find jazz everywhere like we anticipated, we walked through parts of the Quarter we'd never seen before and happened upon Good Friends Bar which was a perfect way to end our trip.
Because, ultimately, New Orleans is about the people. I talked to more strangers and made more fast friends than I ever normally do on a trip. New Orleans is a welcoming place full of character and characters. So whether it was sharing champagne with our new favorite bartender, Justin, or quickly sharing intimate details of our relationships with an aspiring film director manning an art gallery, it felt right. It didn't feel like home but it felt safe.
But, maybe more than anything, New Orleans was about a couple. The lady and me. The moments in between our times together get--tougher isn't the word--felt more because there is such high value to when we share physical space. I feel trust there. While our time is often fleeting -- a weekend, a few days, a week -- we don't rush to get it all in. I revel in our potential to have more of these moments. To plan for them. To anticipate them. To not doubt that they will come.
New Orleans is about me. And you.
Your mama. And your cousin, too.