Somehow, some way, it’s been six months since Mindy and I rolled into the Bywater. The schedule we laid out at the beginning of 2020 was solid. We’d arrive in late March or early April, make our initial push to unpack and set up, with breaks for Easter parades and French Quarter Fest. Then, we’d get back at it to get the house ready for guests coming to town for Jazz Fest. We’d catch our breath while test out the AC in the summer, and we’d fly up to Detroit to see my dad, then football games and Arkansas fall leaves and the New Orleans fall festivals.
We were so cute and optimistic when we were young. Schedule? That’s hilarious. It was as if 2020 spilled an entire gallon of iced tea on our laptop. Of course it did the same to all of us and hasn’t even had the common courtesy to apologize.
As much time as I spent in New Orleans through the years, some things about my new home have stood out to me over these six months, even during a pandemic:
- The diversity of this place knocks me out. It’s not just about skin tone, although I see more colors sharing one block here than I’ve seen in square miles of the other places I’ve lived. I’ve also seen hair of every color known to man and some previously unknown, sometimes on the same head. And the style – dang, New Orleans, you know how to dress, and everybody seems to be pulling off something different.
- I wonder how long it will take for me to walk by a palm tree or a banana tree and just see a tree. Forever, I hope.
- I’ve never seen a place look so different at night. It’s like the sun goes down, the lights come on and a different city comes out, looking like a romantic movie set. “What, this old thing? Well, I just went in the closet and threw something on.”
- Living three blocks from Crescent Park and being able to spend time on the river has been a pandemic-surviving gift. Standing on Piety Wharf, looking for turtles and water birds in the river, watching the ships make the turn at Algiers Point … and just the sound of it all is like warm bread pudding for the soul.
- Speaking of food, Shank Charcuterie on St. Claude provides the greatest hamburger I’ve ever had, and second place isn’t even close. Watching the owner make it is like performance art.
- I broke the habit of saying “you guys” years ago and went with “you all.” I haven’t slipped into “y’all” yet – I feel I’ve gotta live here a while longer to earn that.
When you were a kid, did you ever have a summer day when you knew you were going to the pool, you looked forward to it all day, and right when you got there a thunderstorm popped up? You had to sit there, looking at the pool, wondering when the storm will finally pass so you can jump on the diving board and do the world’s biggest cannonball. That’s what moving to New Orleans on April 2nd, 2020 has been like. The saving grace is that we’re waiting out the storm with delightfully funky, soulful, beautifully weird, amazing friends and neighbors. And that makes everything better.