The people of New Orleans are just as vibrant as the candy-colored homes and shops of the French Quarter and Faubourg Marigny, where celebrated the 25th year of life as the weeklong resident of my very own watermelon shotgun house. There was the palm reader/tarot card woman I anxiously approached outside Jackson Square. The kind waitress at The Gumbo Pot, who laughed at my friends and I when she discovered we traveled all the way to the bayou and didn’t even end up seeing any alligators. On Bourbon Street, the bouncers that yelled, “It’s titty time!” and the bartenders who were quick to shove jello shots down your throat if you accidentally opened your mouth too wide near them. And I’ll never forget the 17-year-old my friend Andy struck up a conversation with on a streetcar. He shared the fact his mother chose to ride out Hurricane Katrina in their home rather than face the crimes that happened in the Superdome with so many people crammed in it. He recounted being just seven and having to loot stores for food just to survive, and how even ten years later the city will never be what it once was. His words rooted even further in my mind after a drive past a couple neighborhoods, that even ten years after the storm, still aren’t repaired.
On a much lighter note… I brought in the next chapter of my life by earning beads on Bourbon Street (but not in that way, okay?), taking a spin around the carousel bar at the historic Hotel Monteleone and watching live bands on Frenchmen Street. I faced my fears of the occult by not only speaking to a voodoo woman, but by visiting Marie Laveau’s House of Voodoo, and I spent an afternoon vintage hunting in the Garden District. And yes, the beignets at Cafe Du Monde are as great as everyone claims. This city — these people, this experience — was a great way to bring in the next quarter century of my life. Though I would like to someday experience New Orleans in its full glory during Mardi Gras, Halloween week was a pretty good preview.