(or Is This My Home?)
This week I find myself in New Orleans, and so naturally, this idea of “home” continues to plague me. I’m here for a work meeting, and the city is surprisingly quiet. I went to Café du Monde on the first night in town and I’ve never seen the place so empty. Sure it was a Monday night, but even so, the French Quarter was all but deserted. Perhaps it’s because it was a weekday, or because Mardi Gras season, while technically in effect, isn’t nearly in full swing yet.
I feel conflicted, in a way, being here. The last time I was in Louisiana was 8 years ago, to say goodbye to the family home before my parents sold it and moved to another state. I feel drawn to this city, the stomping ground of my youth, and yet also feel very disconnected from it. But there are triggers for long-forgotten memories everywhere I look, everywhere I walk. There is the Aquarium of the Americas, destination of many-a-school field trip. There is the parking lot where we would always park on day trips to the city. There are the Canal Street shops where my dad would buy his suits from Brooks Brothers. There is where the Hard Rock Café once stood. There is Jackson Brewery where we would buy trinkets from souvenir shops. There is the plaza where the street dancers would perform. There is the Riverwalk, once the site of the 1984 World’s Fair (which I did attend), and later a boutique shopping mall, and now, after a freightliner slammed into the building, after Katrina flooded it, sadly an Outlet Mall. There is Café du Monde. And St. Louis Cathedral and Jackson Square, uncannily devoid of the fortune tellers and street performers. And Central Grocery. And Mother’s Po-Boys. And Court of the Two Sisters with it’s legendary brunch. And Pat O’Brien’s with it’s legendary dueling everything.