Our little family just came back from a weekend in our favorite city in the world- New Orleans, Louisiana. Here is what I love about it: everything. Food, people, beer, music, church, festivals, costumes, history, and the beauty of a cool breeze in the middle of a blazing hot afternoon. I love that Grant and I forged so much of our story in this city- decided who and what we wanted to be, together. Everything in this city was ours.
This weekend we shared it with two groups of people: our dear friends Liz and Jonathan Block and our children. To Liz and Jonathan we shared our memories, our favorite places and some new ones we had always wanted to try. To Purslane and Knox we shared the place where our family started, where their Mom and Dad fell even more deeply in love. Where we struggled and sweated and loved and played. The glory of Mardi Gras and evenings on the porch, and the pain of evacuation and goodbyes. And we remembered hard- we ate boudain at Ignatius, bread pudding at St Charles Tavern (not as good as I remember, but I was sober this time), fried chicken and red beans and rice at Willie Mae's, fried green tomatoes and catfish po-boys at Dick and Jenny's and hurricanes at Pat O's. It was a glorious culinary reunion.
New Orleans looks different when you are pushing a double stroller. There were no late nites on Frenchman Street or 3 hour meals at Jaqui-mos. Long walks through the Garden District were still beautiful but we noticed more of the stroller-halting cracks in the sidewalks than we did some of the houses on Grant's Garden District tour. We didn't eat at a new restaurant on St Charles Ave because they didn't have high chairs and Purslane loses interest in siting quietly in her chair while we eat a meal if she is not restrained. Louisiana still allows smoking in bars, so more favorite haunts were off-limits. This sounds like bad parenting that we would consider taking our children into a bar but during the day, bars in New Orleans are just great places to hang out and take a break from the heat- even with babes. (take that, Kelley's) The plane flights were 75% okay but the final 25% flight from Atlanta to Pittsburgh, both babes had had enough of traveling and it was definitely our turn to be the family on the plane that made everyone else wish they were NOT on the plane.
But that was the worst part about taking the babes to New Orleans, the rest of the time we soaked up everything we love about this city and shared it with them. Every street artist in Jackson Square took advantage of our slower pace with a stroller to give Pursy "free" balloon animals or bead necklaces or clever tricks... with a thinly veiled hint to her parents that a tip would be much appreciated. Purslane ate enough good southern food to make her Mama proud and slept through the night as a gift to her tired Dada. And we got to spend a few days with L&J celebrating his birthday with good beer, good beignets, good streetcar rides and good conversation. It was the new New Orleans to us. Very different from our life before we expanded our family and gave up the freedom to wander and stay up as late as we wanted. But next time we go, we will probably leave them with the grandparents and keep our city to ourselves until the babes are old enough to walk and enjoy the culture of NOLA. And who knows... one day they just might call it home. Just like we still do.