I returned to New Orleans this past weekend for a wham, bam, thank you, Krewe du Vieux semiforced march through the French Quarter and the CBD dressed as an artisan bag lady with a jacket made of Whole Foods bags, a Force-Flex and inflated packing cushion train, and a plastic hotel laundry bag hat. It was great, it was fun, I saw loads of people I knew along the parade route (walking on the level of the paradegoers makes for great intimacy) and got an earful of James Andrews stopping by with Kirk Joseph's Backyard Groove at the very end.
And then I had to go home. Which is not New Orleans anymore.
In a sense, New Orleans will always feel like home. I'm not talking about that feeling. I'm talking about the physical move we had to do that isn't fully a psychological move yet.
In some inscrutable ways, our moving of ourselves and our possessions a mere six-hour drive away may never completely take hold, but there are things we could do to make it easier on ourselves. Perhaps it's only me thinking like this, but lately, I consider what was different about our few years moving up to Queens and our move to the Houston area and I wonder if our financial inability to hop a flight to New Orleans any ol' weekend wasn't a blessing in disguise...It forced us to get right into the community in which we lived, which began with our getting involved in the synagogue there, then joining a Yiddish chorus, then moving out of the high rise on Queens Blvd. we were in for two years to a townhouse with great landlords, all within a four-year period. We visited New Orleans once or twice a year, but our lives didn't revolve around those visits. I fear we're in danger of doing that now.
I know some of this is my husband wanting us to do the things we used to do around this time of year. It's Carnival season, and the bigger parades will begin rolling through New Orleans starting this coming weekend. When we lived close to the parade route and had other friends having parties of their own along the route, it was a family atmosphere, one that's tough to conjure here in a suburb with no sidewalks and few streetlights. Dan recently floated having our Krewe of Pancakes & Syrup on a different parade day morning other than Mardi Gras day morning so that we could somehow make as many midweek parade parties as possible. I knew in my heart that wouldn't work, but I crowdsourced the question via my New Orleans people on Facebook and Twitter to get the answer I already knew. My next days in New Orleans will be the Monday before Mardi Gras and Mardi Gras day itself, when I will be slinging pancakes like I usually do. And I'm okay with that.
I spend more time in this area, anyhow, and I begin to wonder about many things, most of them concerning change. My mother's ethos, "Change is good!" repeated to me many times in the past few months, is seemingly so anathema to where I moved from (despite a great deal of evidence to the contrary in actions and deeds) that moving to a place where supposedly change is more or less the raison d'etre is intriguing. So much of this city reminds Dan of the northern California city where he grew up, which has him unsettled possibly even more than I am. We're still getting used to the long distances here. We have a bar mitzvah to plan in the coming year, which is really blowing my mind.
And something in me is starting to ask a few questions about my past here. Questions I'm not sure I'm ready to try to answer just yet, but they're there, lingering. Maybe tomorrow. Maybe someday.