This time of year, I long for New Orleans.
I remember the first Mardi Gras after Katrina, how pervasive the sense of the community was. New Orleans seemed small-town. I stayed with college friends, a Tulane law student and a choir teacher, both of whom were just back from several months in Oxford, Mississippi. They’d rented the second story of a walk-up row-house off The Quarter. When I first arrived, Sage drove me around, past the houses with spray-painted X’s and mysterious numbers, a code that recorded who searched when and who survived. We stopped in her old neighborhood, and she asked me to take a picture of her standing in the front yard of a house she would never occupy again.
At night, she knew everyone in the Marigny restaurants. People greeted each other like long-lost family. For many, it was their first weekend back. We played pool at a corner pub, a real neighborhood place. (Wasn’t every place, then?) We had a party that night and the next morning, breakfasted on vodka like the college kids we’d been not long before. We donned tutus and glitter, took in a parade and then paraded ourselves from friend’s house to friend’s house, in love with everyone just because they were lovely, but primarily because they had chosen to come back.
Somewhere, I have pictures of Mardi Gras 2006. But until I can dig them off of some old hard-drive, here are some vintage pics from the world-wide-web.