There are hard realities to living with you: You eat pavement, you pull porches from their doors, your oak trees ban anything within a ten-mile radius of their trunks.
I’ve long ago conceded to your and nature’s way, spending every chance that I can in Audubon Park – the park named for a great advocate of nature’s way. There, away from the innovations of the modern day, I feel free from the modern world’s tyrannical push to improve. My sole obligation is to ponder the regular flight of the birds, making their regular sunset-silhouetted descents onto an island that only allows their skinny feet.
I fell in sync with your rhythms, New Orleans. I began a ritual of napping. I found that napping was necessary before the grinding pace of your nights. Your nightly grind carries the veracity of any other city’s working day.
I once asked a hobo – of a type that most term “crusty”— why he left his Yankee homeland to come to you. He said it was because you are sinking. Because, “New Orleans is like Venice: soon to disappear.”
He went on: “I want to tell my children that I danced in the actual streets of this sinking city.”
But I don’t think your streets are in danger of disappearing, no matter how far below sea level they are.
Your streets are unlike any on this planet. Each echoes its own music: Desire – a dirge from a solitary trumpet; St. Charles – a symphony between crescendos of streetcars; and the streets of Treme (littered with Indian feathers) sing in mysterious tongues, crying a song I’ve tried to make sense of – the song that goes “Iko Iko, Jockamo fee nané.”
This music flows from your nights into blissful days that aren’t even disturbed by the occasional bump into a stranger. The stranger, when bumped, won’t grimace. Instead, he’s compelled to ask, “How you do?”
New Orleans, though your houses may be unsteady and your oak trees may demand more attention than the people they shade – when a stranger asks how I do – I do, will do, and surely will be doing “alright.”
Because I am here with you, New Orleans. I am here, my family has long been here, and I ain’t plannin’ on dying nowhere else!
As far as I’m concerned, you can eat all the pavement that you desire. The pavement is a sacrificial offering, an advance payment for the good times you’ll continue to give the generations after me.
In fact, I predict that the rest of the world will eventually start to sink just a little bit faster than you do. You’ll be lifted up as the pinnacle of all places, a mountain, echoing with the music from streets.
I sincerely thank you New Orleans. This is a small token of my appreciation for you, which I hope inspires others to offer their own praise for your glorious ways.
A side note:
This is my first contribution to NolaVie, a new section of Nola.com that intends to showcase New Orleans from the POV of residents, visitors, and general admirers. Each Friday, I intend to add voice to others, and celebrate some elements that make the “Sinking City” a cherished place.
I look forward to the future.