Godmama Says…
a buncha stuff.

beads

Just got back from my very first Mardi Gras.   I don’t know how Mardi Gras and I had never met, but now we are in love.

The first night worried me a little bit.  After a long exhausting nine hour drive,  Adam and I arrived Monday evening and headed straight for the French Quarter… where all I saw was the MTV Spring Break crowd.  College kids out in full force, just drinking and screaming and throwing shit.  And none of them even  in costume.   The only interesting thing about the crowd was the inordinate number of Christian protesters making a powerful presence everywhere they could.   (Christians protesting a Catholic holiday.   Okayyyyy…..)  They had giant fancy banners–none of that hand made crap, but professionally screen-printed beauties– declaring lists of all the things that God hates….and apparently God Hates a LOT.  One sign said very specifically in giant letters colored by flames, “ROMAN CATHOLICISM WILL SEND YOU TO HELL!”   Between the God-Hates-You gangs and the drunken college kids, Monday night was kind of a bummer.

We had a place to stay because I have family there.   Cousin Horace is closer to my grandmother in age than anyone I call a cousin, so I think of him as an uncle.   A word about Uncle-Cousin Horace:    This trip was fairly spontaneous.  We “planned” it with about two days notice and it was contingent on me finding out if Horace and his family would be able to host us for a day or two at the last minute.  Turns out, he had just had a leg amputated a week before and had only been home for a day.  This was not a problem, however…just some information on how his week was going.  Not only could we stay there but we had to.  AND he insisted on personally taking us to the city’s best parade on Tuesday morning.  The man is well into his 70’s,  had just lost a leg,  but refused to let our experience of our first Mardi Gras be in any way incomplete.   It was not.

Later, this represented the spirit of the whole town for me.   There were parts of the city that were shuddered and broken and falling apart.   Parts of buildings and parts of neighborhoods that could make you sad if you looked at them for too long…but those were just parts.  There was also so much joy and genuine hospitality that it was truly bizarre at times.  There was so much to see.  So many intricate little details of the town’s pride in itself.   The recent superbowl win played no small part in representing the resurrection of a city’s exuberance*.   That town is hardcore in love with itself right now, and it felt incredible to be able to dance around inside that newfound light.

(*I don’t think I’ve ever had any reason to use the word exuberance before meeting New Orleans…)

So anyway, Tuesday more than made up for the drag of Monday’s frat party/girls-gone-wild experience.   The day began with my one-legged Uncle-Cousin Horace waking us up bright and early so he and his half-his-age wife could escort us to the Zulu Parade in the morning.   By noon Adam and I  were on a ferryboat ride back into town to find out where the freaks were hiding.  We found them by avoiding streets with famous names (like Bourbon and Canal) and detouring over to some side roads.   What we found was the magical freakshow carnival dance party that my soul has apparently been starving for.  There was bodypaint and stilts and wings everywhere.  The costumes were elaborate and beautiful and bizarre and hilarious and inspired.  There was music on top of music with random marching bands floating through it all.  There was dancing.   So much dancing.  I have been dying to dance.  I danced everywhere I went.    There was food and certainly no shortage of alcohol.   Did you know you can buy liquor in just about every single store in Louisiana?  I did not know this.   I am filled with fried seafood, hot sauce, and rum.

(There is a limit for me to the whole drink as much as you can just because you can thing.  I loved every bit of it, but I don’t think I would need 18 hours of it at a time, especially with nonstop drinking…which is generally what ends the party anyway.  But that’s another blog.)

I squealed and laughed like a delighted child.   Upon seeing an 11 foot tall evil flying monkey-dude on stilts,  I clapped my hands and hopped up and down with literal glee.  My eyes and brain are stuffed with sights and sounds for my mind to play with for a long time.  Too much to even unpack yet.   Granted, I missed out on Halloween last year so my freakshow needs have been all pent up, but I may well have a new favorite holiday.   This one has freaks and TUBAS.  And giant paper mache’ skull-heads.

Somehow, my breasts never made a single public appearance.  Not one.  Weird.   Still, we have several hundred more strings of beads than we know what to do with.

Thank you New Orleans.   You are gorgeous, and I will see you again soon.   And thank you, Adam, for New Orleans.

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