Apparently, I’m so inextricably drawn to and captivated by this city. On our last day here together, we’d have acquired a strange trust of this place and find ourselves settled into such mystery. No less intrigued, we’d surrender control and allow ourselves to be taken by what wonders were left to be revealed. We’d be guided intuitively; awakened and perceptive to signs, guides, symbols and synchronicity. For breakfast, we’d happen upon the Clover Grill, another portal of a place transcending space and time. Fed a vegetarian girl a burger, as the sign outside boasted the “World’s best”. The grill operated since 1939 has the style of a 50’s diner: pale pink tiled walls, art deco lighting and coffee served in classic cream ceramic mugs. To Metallica’s Ride the Lightening wonderfully blaring from the jukebox, our waiter wearing his white side jerk paper hat was spirited in ribbon dancing with the receipt.
Sauntering through the streets of the historic French Quarter, lanterns flickering, one wonders at the past and present lives sheltered behind the shuttered windows. There’s an old world feel, a lingering energy also contributed to by the lack of skyscrapers and the cobblestone. In general, I feel New Orleans lacks a well defined present. Some of the street names are so beautiful, one’s I’d name my daughter after. We’d encounter Bourbon St. in the day. Listening to a neat family jazz group Y’israel, we’d notice their parents standing proudly in the audience.
We’d meet two Russian guys unable to find where they’d parked their car, each partaking in a 3-for-1 Corona special. We’d show them how to tap a Corona on the top of another’s bottle and set it to overflow; What a hilarious half an hour, which needless to say after the floor was a wet mess. Well on their way to a wild night we thought it wise to part ways.
Long before passing, our noses would be met by the intoxicating aroma of an enormous cauldron of gumbo cooking. I’d peer into the pot for a glimpse of my future in the simmering stew of shrimp, Andouille sausage and red chillis. We’d enjoy fantastic company and dancing. I’d boldly dance with another guy in a wheelchair for the first time, a very fit and handsome amputee. After inquiring, he told me in a thick French accent that he was playing in a tennis tournament in Baton Rouge. Curiosity would lead me to discover the next day that he’s ranked 6th internationally as a wheelchair tennis player.
The dancing would tire and early the next morning I’d drop my friend off to the airport to fly home to New York city. I’d reorient myself for only one more afternoon here.
Unable to find an accessible laundry mat, I dropped off my backpack full of clothes to the lovely yin and yang pair of women, one old with white hair sitting behind the counter and the other black and spirited, at the wonderfully antiquated Washing Well Laudreteria.
I’d pass a couple more hours in the French Quarter where despite the usual tourist crowds, I’d be drawn to delicious beignets. Dough fried in cottonseed oil, in the renowned and original open air French Market, Café du Monde, established in 1862. Beignets are to be drowned in chickory café au lait, while a breeze blows through the open air market dusting my little black tank top with powdered sugar in a sugar storm. There’s a remarkable sensuousness about such experiences that evokes a heightened awareness.
However necessary or not to our grander salvation, it’s at times these seemingly very small things, these gratuitous graces intertwined with our delicate human existence that save me. I appreciate my sensitivity to such spells of sensuousness. I’m left rapt feeling prowess in subsuming this sublime place yet again; a proud purveyor of her siren secrets.