Sunday, June 14, 2015

New Orleans - A love letter to a city on a river.

In 2005 my work took me to New Orleans on July 10th. Hurricane Dennis had just turned and was going to miss New Orleans and it was a month before Katrina got there.I was there from July 10th - August 8th for work.

I didn't take enough pictures.

It was the first time I'd been to New Orleans since 1976 when I was 8 and I don't remember it then. I remember the King Tut exhibit but I don't remember the town, or didn't think I did.

New Orleans has been on my mind a lot lately. Summer's here and it's been hot and humid. I've never done humid like New Orleans does humid though. I don't drink so Bourbon Street I just skipped and my whole three weeks was spent in the French Quarter. I ate everywhere. I walked the streets looking at things, just the homes and houses were fantastic. The Garden District is beautiful. The wrought iron is lace frozen in place. The streets in the morning are wet and empty. But not desolate empty. They're the empty of a deep breath being taken and held... it's the quiet of the held breath. You can see people stirring in shops. The little crowd at Cafe du Monde for beignets and cafe au lait. The oppressive humidity and complete lack of a breeze... the hidden gardens you can glimpse through wrought iron gates.

I loved New Orleans from the first time I stepped out of the cab into the heat on Chartres Street. I loved the voodoo. I love the cemeteries. I love the street performers. I loved the music and the food and the history and old buildings and the feeling that this place, this city is a place where wonderful things can happen just because it's Tuesday. I loved every day of my time there and I didn't take enough pictures. I didn't take enough pictures because there was a weird familiarity to it all. When I saw something it wasn't like seeing it for the first time it was like seeing it again after a long absence.

I didn't fall in love like a new lover, I fell in love with the town like old High School friends seeing each other again decades later. It was beautiful and wonderful and had a stately grace to it in the mornings... remember, I didn't walk down Bourbon Street more than a block at most. I crossed it a couple times but didn't care for it. That's not my thing. I could smell the piss and puke smell of Bourbon Street anytime a gentle lazy breeze would come from that direction but that wasn't what I went for and it's not anything I took any part in.

I wouldn't have thought I could miss a town I'd only visited for work but I have been missing it lately. I'd like to go back. I don't know that I could go back and visit it long enough to stop wanting to go there. I know the city is doomed.
I know that at some point the water will come and fill the bowl that is New Orleans and when it does that, my favorite city, will be swallowed up and that makes it sweeter I guess, bitter sweet. It's so special and so wonderful and there's no other place like it in the world.

It's unique and amazing and if you ever get a chance go. Go and do all the tourist things. Take the ghost tours, the graveyard tours, the historic walks and bus rides. Do it all, and in the mornings get up early and just walk around before the heat gets too hot, before the sun's too high, and before the press of crowds happens and just walk and take it all in. Look at the buildings, the architecture, the history, the windows and the wrought iron. That's what I remember the best is my solitary walks in the morning just looking at the city and remembering memories that I couldn't possibly have but that the city itself has and has so strongly they infected me.

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