They say you only hurt the ones you love. And, man, has New Orleans been hurting me lately.
It’s not just the day-to-day AFU’s of living in New Orleans (like black-hole potholes, a mayor who channels Napoleon, or the damp-armpit-meets-bus-station bathroom odor that permeates the Quarter in the summer months). I’m talking about new and creative messes.
Like the implosion of our beloved Times-Picayune or the thugs who are using their cars to block and then, literally, stomp cyclists in the Bywater (all for a purse), or the crackheads who are returning to Treme and letting their pits run off-leash, terrorizing the schoolkids at Craig, and royally irritating my Scottie, Tyra Banks. (To be clear, the issue isn’t that they’re pits. I love pits. A lot. It’s that these are off-leash dogs with nary an owner in sight!)
And, then, on Sunday, Uncle Lionel left us. As my sister would say, “Really?”
Suffice it to say, I’ve been grumpy lately.
And grumpy most definitely was I as Tyra and I made our way back home after our morning walk on Tuesday. Two more pits had come after us, the clouds were jiffy-pop full of rain, and I was pretty much done. With it all.
As I passed Cafe Treme, making my way up St. Philip toward North Robertson, I saw a neighbor sitting on his stoop, doing his daily word search puzzle. We’re always nice to each other, but have probably exchanged a total of 20 sentences in the past two years.
“Here, this is for you,” he said as Tyra and I walked by.
I looked down as he held out two butterscotch candies.
“Go on, take’ em,” my neighbor said. “I got a whole bag inside.”
Unwrapping the first one, I told him how my grandmother always used to keep a crystal jar of butterscotch candies on her coffee table. She, not we, got to decide when you got one.
“Yeah,” he said. “I had a grandmother like that. They always seemed to know when we needed one, didn’t they?”
Yup. They did. And, at least in this at once wondrously uplifting and maddeningly brutal city we call home, so, too, do neighbors.
Brett Will Taylor is a southern Shaman who writes Love: NOLA weekly for NolaVie. Visit his site at ashamansjourney.net.