09 September 2005

Adieu, mon ami

So, sometimes you do have to say good-bye. I'm realizing that now in the wake of Katrina. I have to say good-bye to New Orleans. Or, perhaps, "Adieu." It was a beautiful city. I visited in 1983 when I was 21. I almost didn't leave. Such is the magic and magnetism of the city. I know why those people didn't want to leave their homes and why they lived there. It's a beautiful and magical place.

In 1982 I came to Washington, DC and studied in a program at American University. A fellow student was here from Tulane University. During the following summer I was an intern in my senator's office here in DC. I got just enough of a tax refund and it came in just enough time so that I could go to New Orleans during my February break in 1983 and visit my Tulane friend and it just so happened that year that my break coincided with Mardi Gras. Whooo Hooo!!! And it so happened that several other friends (including my Arabic teacher) were also going to visit other friends of theirs. I mean ... why not??!! So, we travelled to Boston, and then from Beantown to the Big Easy together. Once we got there tho we more or less went our separate ways for the week, but kept bumping into each other.

There are hardly any words or maybe there just aren't enough that can describe that whole experience. There were the parades and the flying beads and the glittering costumes. I kept the beads for years and years until their magic grew dim behind the dust and finally all that remained were the memories.

Then there was piano player in the bar that purported itself to be Jean LaFitte's hangout. Her fingers danced across the keys, birds cavorting in the sunshine. Somehow they were not part of her and yet she moved with them at the same time. I could have watched her play all night, but my companions were not so content.

We white kids stumbled into a black neighborhood on Tuesday morning during the parade that is dedicated to the African-American community (you'd think I could remember what it's called). We just got off the bus when it came to the end of the line and walked til we found a parade. We were there for about half an hour before we realized, "oh ... look ... we're the only white folks for several blocks." We kind of wondered why we weren't getting any beads at that parade. But we soon figured out that if we held the little kids on our shoulders, then they could at least get some beads for themselves and we could enjoy their joy. And through that act of "giving" we became part of that community for that moment. They gathered us up to themselves just as if we lived there.

And there on the corner by the wharf down on the river ... get you a Times-Picayune and a cafe au lait and a beignet at the Cafe du Monde ... sit there for a while and read the news of the day and soak up the music and the sun on your back and listen to the breezes blow and the boats on the river.

Adieu, mon ami ....


Blogger Maggie said...

What did you do to get beads, hmm? and was it storyville?

9/09/2005 01:00:00 PM  
Blogger aBhantiarna Solas said...

Well ... I flashed my ...

pearly whites!

9/09/2005 09:56:00 PM  
Blogger Amy said...

I have an old box of Cafe Du Monde Beignet Mix from my last visit to the market. I wonder if this will become a collector´┐Żs item. Maybe I could auction it off and donate the proceeds. Or, maybe I could just make and eat them.

9/11/2005 09:16:00 PM  

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