…way down yonder in New Orleans…
My girl was born in a place of renowned culture.
Okay, so the word “culture” is not typically the first thing that comes to mind when one thinks of Mississippi…but I digress. Unless you’ve been there, you really haven’t a clue what you’re missing.
While Hattiesburg, Mississippi isn’t exactly known as a hot tourist spot, much of Ellie’s first year was spent in that sleepy little town.
Most days are long and hot, life moves slowly, and people are quick to “ma’am” you. The accents are thick and heavy as the words roll like honey. Things are “made” (e.g. “I made an A on that test), people have “buggies” (shopping carts), and “ice chests” (coolers), and people “mash” their brakes in the car. Tea is sugary sweet, and crawfish season is something to be celebrated.
In Hattiesburg, right up from New Orleans, people are kind, the music is wonderful, and the food is…well…let’s just say there is a reason why I packed on a good number of pounds during my Ph.D.
…it should go without saying that I fell in love with the South during my tenure.
And not “south” of North Carolina. Oh no.
The deep, gritty South. The south Louis Armstrong sung about in his low, sad voice. Where jazz music and the smell of magnolias fill the night air.
Okay, maybe not in the freakin’ Mark I across from the Jr. Food Mart. Ah…I miss it.
Which leads me to Mardi Gras.
My first real experience with Mardi Gras was
a complete shit-show and I’m lucky to be alive my first year in my Ph.D program. All of us stayed on Canal street for a week-long conference. To put it mildly, it was nuts. But following one night of crazy, the rest of the week was fairly tame. And I quickly fell in love with the city.
So much so that I would routinely drag Joe down to partake in etouffee, beignets with chickory, and jazz music in front of St. Louis…the kind of music that would dig down deep and touch every part of your soul.
…oh when the Saints…
Sure, you’ve heard jazz music before. But it takes it to a whole new level when every instrument in the 5-piece street ensemble is covered in duct-tape and the tuba is patched with cardboard. So raw and real that I can’t help but hope when I’m met in Heaven by a choir of angels, that they were students of the streets of New Orleans.
Gritty, and real, and simply beautiful.
…my love affair with the South, with New Orleans.
Which brings me to Mardi Gras of this year.
Come hell or high water, my child will know that she has roots in the deep South. She will know the city that her daddy and I fell in love with. Hell…she may very well live there one day (if things play out). And as a testament to my desire to have her understand more than what is in front of her…we celebrated Mardi Gras in style this year.
In a way most fitting.
…Laissez le Bon temp rouler…