Baby Chicken turned twenty-one over the weekend. It remains a mystery how children become so old yet we remain so young and vibrant. Until we spend a weekend in New Orleans. And then we are reminded, in a Blanche DuBois sort of way, that we’re a bit trampled, less skilled at all night frivolity. We do, however, remain swayed by a place that cavorts with the edges of us, the parts that color outside the lines, embracing everything.
Chris Rose said of the city. “We dance even if there’s no radio. We drink at funerals. We talk too much and laugh too loud and live too large and frankly, we’re suspicious of others who don’t”
A little yellow house in the Garden District threatens to swallow me whole and have me sit on the wrap around porch writing for the rest of my days. But then I would have to continue to drink in the daytime. And fight the urge, with every parade going by, to grab my parasol and dance down the street with strangers celebrating the most precious of days.
I may have to drink another concoction in a test tube and walk in the middle of the street swaying and talking to strangers turned friends on sight. There’s a reason it’s “The Big Easy.” It would be so easy to be encased, to be enveloped, to be lost forever. To live that slow, methodic easy-going life with constant saxophone wailing in the distance is a heart capturer.
We eat. We drink. We celebrate our Baby Chicken; myself and her siblings, and we miss The Norwegian. We have a drunken girl cry over it, as one must when the street is named Bourbon. We collect beads without ever lifting a shirt. Thank God for that. We worship Miss Marie Laveau and marvel at generations of families interred together. We venture to a cemetery at night, hoping to soak up of some of Marie’s magic for ourselves, but the gates are locked. A tour guide tells us her grave has been vandalized more than any other.
Marie LeVeau, for non-Coven aficionados, is the voodoo queen of New Orleans. She combined her Catholic faith with voodoo, worshipping saints, blessed symbols and objects. She called on saints to bring good and was known to help the poor and downtrodden. Many believe she was a witch. All the better. Takes a witch to get shit done. To believers, she is considered the queen and her spirit listens and intercedes on their behalf, even today. Kinda like The Supreme, non?
Baby Chicken brings a friend of the male variety to meet us. We talk behind their backs about him, about her and about the way they look at each other. Oldest Chicken says we’re stupid and who cares. Middle Chicken and I squee a little and keep walking. We duck into The Court of Two Sisters so I can show her the table I brunched with her father years ago and we toast to his memory in the haunted hotel in which we stayed; me wide-eyed all night. The Norwegian? Not so bothered by ghosts.
The girls leave early to catch Monday class. Late Sunday night, when Oldest Chicken orders squid ink pasta and a plate of black snakes arrives, I know it’s time to go. Too much food. Too much drink. Too much voodoo. One more night in NOLA and I’ll march off with the band.