Dear New Orleans,
I’ll be brief. Saturday was one of those perfect afternoons that I wasted most of cleaning my room and hanging out on the Internet. I had other plans but somehow the afternoon almost got away from me. Rather than the sculpture garden at City Park (which turned out to be closed anyway) or my backup plan, the museum, I decided to just go to the store. As I was walking out the front door, I remembered how I wanted to take pictures of the glut of Mardi Gras beads on St. Charles Avenue before they eventually become just a few forgotten beads swinging over power lines and stuck in branches. I went back for my camera. I parked further down the avenue than I normally do and walked around for a while. There were other people out with cameras, and I kept wanting to tell them that I wasn’t a tourist. I live here. This is my home. I felt so lucky to call it that.
I still feel the same thrill seeing the streetcar run noisily down the tracks. I am still amazed by the august architecture along the avenue and the side streets. It wasn’t enough just to take a few pictures. I wanted to see more of my city. Just walk among it for a while. So I walked down a few blocks to the Lafayette Cemetery on Prytania. There were more tourists there. It makes the cemetery a friendly place, I think. Everyone gathers together – the dead and living alike. The sun was hanging low and casting a warm light.
I walked back around the block. Some young girls were playing in the yard of one the mansions in the Lower Garden District. I wanted to stop and talk with them and find out what it would be like to grow up living in one of those homes. I wanted to ask if I could go inside for a tour, but I stayed politely across the street and admired the saucer mangolia tree that is blooming.
I could smell the camellia bush across the street and it reminded me of my first visit to the South way back in 2004. It was March then, and the plantation gardens Kellie and I explored were full of camellias. I loved it even then.
Oh New Orleans, I didn’t want to go home that night. I just wanted to walk around and drink you up. Be a part of everything. I know you have problems. I know the roads are pothole-ridden (the least of your problems) and I had just enough time in your classrooms to view first-hand the effects of systemic failure that I suspect goes far beyond the schools, but New Orleans, I love you in spite of all that.
How can I help it when there are such lovely things around? So glad I’m here.