Wednesday, November 4, 2009

New Orleans

The Big Easy eventually became quite magical, but at first I was far from impressed. Perhaps it was the white pill that helped, or maybe I just needed to get out from behind the wheel, but I was immediately disappointed with NOLA while getting lost on her elevated highways.

Once we settled our things into our hotel room, we walked around outside and I found the city to be exactly what I was hoping for. Once the sun dipped below the skyline, we took the St. Charles Ave streetcar onto Canal and crossed over onto Bourbon St. From street corner one there were folks playing zydeco and jazz, and the smell of cigar smoke and alcohol flooded my senses further. We found ourselves on a second story latticed balcony eating an oyster po’boy and puffin on a cigar while watching the magnificent spectacle that is the inebriated human being.

A couple of blocks away from our hotel is the Garden District. These homes are mind-boggling brilliance of early colonial American architecture that’s a nice compliment to the French homes on the other side of Esplanade. Of course I paid my own tribute to a former house of Anne Rice on the corner of Chestnut, and peacefully we roamed the above-ground tombs of Lafayette Cemetery as the sun began to set. I carried my original copy of The Vampire Lestat with me in my pocket as we left the Garden District care of Prytania Street.

The next night was the Tru Blood and Gold Ball, and the event wasn’t close to a disappointment. Upon entering Republic New Orleans, the venue, Charlaine Harris walked right up to my girlfriend, said hi in that perfectly gentle southern way, and T was quiet and star-struck. With Anne Rice in California, Charlaine was awarded the “Queen of New Orleans.” My girlfriend purchased raffle tickets that landed us four signed Anne Rice books, including Interview with the Vampire (which I didn’t have in HC). She was so excited that I was happier with her reaction of winning than the books that we won.

During the day we spent our time walking still, and people watching from the awning of Café du Monde, eating delicious beignets and drinking café au laits. I could’ve spent all day reading in Jackson Square just beneath the St. Louis Cathedral. The wind gusted across the Mississippi and the tropical weather was like a sweaty heaven for me. Our last day, we were again on Prytania at the Garden District Book Shop for Charlaine’s book signing.

And with that we headed home. For some reason unexplainable I’m having separation anxiety from New Orleans. Sure, Memphis was a blast, as was the entire 38 hour driving time, but something is still with me from New Orleans that I cannot shake.