Thursday, January 28, 2016

New Orleans

Three days that became four in the Big Easy with five other women, most of whom I barely knew. All in honor of my best friend and her June wedding to a man, I think we all agree, is the tops.  

So many sidewalk cocktails as we wandered in and out of antique shops and junk stores. Looking for deals. Looking for magic. Studying color and patina. Explaining ourselves. 

New Orleans feels like the one who got away. The city I wish had been mine, knowing full well, it wouldn't have worked out. We would have parted ways, and my heart would have been broken. I'm too earnest and wholesome for her streets. I dance like the mom that I am. 

But she has that pull. 

Chester offered to draw our portraits. With Afros. A dollar apiece. And because unlike most of the group, I am not from a city and am not accustomed wearing blinders, I said yes. We searched around for a pen and he sat down and got to work, sketching two nearly identical faces heart shaped faces, with eyelashes that would make any diva swoon with envy.  Resemblances be damned. 

We walked inside to dance to funk music and I wondered about the men on the stage. Who handed them their first trombone? Who taught them to play the tuba? Did any of them grow up around the corner from Chester? Do they see him and love him and worry about him as they hand him a cigarette on their way home?

New Orleans, you confuse me with your pomp and your poverty. You are weighted down by stories, sinking deeper and deeper below sea level as we watch tankers trudge on above us. And I want to know those stories. I want to live them. I want to understand you and I want you to come to understand me.

You are music and dancing and plates piled high. You are beautiful and worn and saturated with smell. You are hot and humid and hidden patches of green. You welcome us all, whispering to us that we don't need to be young and fresh faced, shiny and hip. We just need to be, and I am so grateful that you let us do just that.

We drank wine at Bacchanal and got down to nineties hip hop at Willie's Chicken Shack. We twirled in Trashy Diva dresses and indulged at Cochon.  Brunched at Atchafalaya. Felt fancy at Carousel Bar. In short, had the best of times.

Joanna, I'm so glad we girl ganged the heck out of the town. You're good at doing life. Thanks for sharing your friends with me. 

And since I managed to get not a single picture of myself on my camera...


  1. Beautiful, Rachel. She breaks my heart, too!

  2. New Orleans is one of my favorite cities I've visited, because of this exact feeling. Good job capturing that elusive butterfly, and these photos make me ache with a longing I did not know existed.