Thursday, October 13, 2005

A couple of memories of New Orleans

Borrowed and brought over:

Cafe au lait and Beignets at two in the morning; a great way to top off an evening in the French Quarter. Powdery sugar all over your face while the pigeons peck for scraps on Decatur Street; chicory-laced coffee piping hot slurped down while viewing an other worldy scene of Jackson Square and Saint Louis Cathedral. Another day of trolling the Big Easy just hours away.

Goodnight my friends; I will never let you forget New Orleans.

And in response to that, this was written:

I hate cafe au lait.

My memories of New Orleans aren't so typical. I remember standing in line with my first girlfriend to see the King Tut exhibit at City Park. I remember being terrified of watching my grandfather placed in his tomb, and wandering around the graveyard instead. My sister and I found a section of the graveyard that was being repaired, and there were a couple of tombs broken open, and some bones scattered around.

A cousin of mine had a neighbor that had a black bear as a pet. Somewhere there was an old corner store with a wooden floor that echoed like a warehouse where my parents took us to eat po-boys. I remember my Aunt Valerie's house, and circling the block because her old house smelled of cigarettes too much for me to bear.

I remember my great-great aunts Maddie and Evelyn, and their old shotgun duplex, and the little brick courtyard that was always dank and in shadows. I remember when Evelyn died, and my father searched their house and found a sock full of Kennedy silver dollars on top of a newspaper from the Sunday after Kennedy was shot. I still have that newspaper, I think. There is an article about Oswald, and it gives his address on Magazine Street, about two blocks from where my mother grew up. That surprised my mother. The article ended with a sentence that Oswald was going to be moved from the Dallas courthouse that morning.

I remember my father's shock when he found a picture of Aunt Maddie with an old boyfriend who was black. We all thought it was cool, but my father was surprised. Aunt Maddie always looked more Creole than Cajun anyway.

I remember riding to New Orleans on Highway 90 as a little kid, lying on the back dash of the car and watching the city lights flick by over my head. I remember when the I-10 bridge from Slidell was built, and I was so scared to cross it that I hid on the floorboard and prayed that the bridge wouldn't collapse.

I remember meeting a cousin at a funeral parlor and never seeing her again. Weddings, funerals, suburban streets, canals, antebellum mansions under oak trees, memorials to the War of 1812, soccer fields along the levy, the river roads out of the city...

There is so much more to New Orleans than the French Quarter, and there is no way it won't all come back. Too many people have too many memories.

I'll drink to all that.

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