It can be difficult sometimes, being the New Kid in a New City. It helps, when someone else is the New Kid right along with you, but then you are both together on the other side of that wall, seeking the proper nook or cranny by which to gain entrance. It is because of this very thing that J and I were delighted to have received an invitation to a Memorial Day BBQ a couple of weeks ago, which then took place at the start of this week. It very nearly felt like a completely normal day hanging out with a friend, although not TOO normal, as it was a New Orleans experience, and I do not think that the adjective “normal” could ever apply to anything that happens ’round here. Particularly because, as a New Kid, even the smallest things bear with them at least the slightest hint of newness and adventure.
After taking some time that morning to pontificate with gratitude upon the memory of our veterans and heroes, my ex-Army husband and I set forth to meet up with our ex-Navy buddy to begin the day. The first order of business was to Build-A-BBQ so that grilling could later take place.
While the two of them had their heads together, hammering out THAT process, I shutterbugged around capturing detail images of the courtyard where our friend lives. I don’t speak completely figuratively when I talk about gaining entry to The Other Side of the Wall. If one spends any time wandering the French Quarter, one will see many walls, many gates…sometimes one can peer through the ironwork and see a courtyard within, but they are often private spaces that one should not attempt to simply wander into. Thus, I did some playing behind the wall.
Once the grill-construction was complete, it was time to make our way along to check in with the other BBQ invitees – a group of Steampunk folks from Texas who were in selling their wares at the French Market. First, though, as it would be some time before grilling commenced and we found ourselves with drastically rumbly tummies, we swung up Dauphine and into Nosh for a peck of lunch. I liked Nosh, more local, less tourist, good food, affordable.
Then we struck out for the French Market, hiking our way across the Quarter. I’ve not mentioned yet how hot it was. It was hot. HOOOOT. I didn’t mind. But yeah, it was HOT. En route, I noticed how quiet the Quarter was, comparatively to other days. I adore it when it’s quiet…it provides a far better venue for noticing things and experiencing things when you are not caught up in a bunch of bustle.
Like hiking by a taxi that was parked at a curb and espying, in once glance as we passed by, a woman sitting shotgun in the cab, who had to be at least 80 years old, sipping daintily from a miniature airplane-sized bottle of Crown Royal. At 2: 30 in the afternoon.
Or the older gentleman we passed on the sidewalk, who was heading the other direction carrying a portable stereo just BLARING “Ain’t Got No Home” by Clarence Frogman Henry. The three of us continued to sing along loudly for a couple of blocks, even after the stereo-man was far up the street behind us and out of earshot.
By the time we made the Market we were all dripping in sweat. And we still had miles to go before we grilled! It was great to meet the Steampunk folks, and I wish we would have been able to actually BBQ with them. Unfortunately, later in the night, we had to depart before they arrived as J had to go to work the next morning. Hopefully we will catch them next time.
Next up was a walk back to our car so that we could drive to a more affordable grocery place to procure our wares. On the way, we had to stop and admire this:
This, it appears, is the gallery (or studio?) of Josephine Sacabo, who primarily lives and does her work here. It was shut up that day due to the holiday, but I now really wish to return and investigate it further, as her imagery is rather fascinating.
We made it back to where we’d begun, at our pal’s place, and swung into Tango’s, the bar on the corner which he manages, to soak in a little much-needed AC and down a bunch of ice-water, pleasantly provided by the barkeep on shift, Patrick, whom it was very nice to meet and who was very fun to chat and joke with for a spell.
Thus fortified, we hopped in the car and made BBQ groceries (and the all-important Beer Run) in the Bywater, amusing the hell out of a shop employee when all three of us rounded the corner of a store-aisle dancing like loons to whatever music was piping in over the intercom at the time.
And then, gasping splatting from the heat, we made it back to the place and began the setup process. The Steampunk folk had handed him a pirate flag to fly from the balcony, the better for them to spot their destination upon arrival. So, I did a little table setup and then sat back with a beer and watched the pirates, aloft, as they troubleshot the situation. J spotted an unused flagpole underneath the stairs, AHA! But the actual flag bracket on the balcony was too woobly.
Thus, like good sailors, they wound up taking some scrap rope and lashing it onto the balcony corner instead.
We whiled away the rest of the hot afternoon playing card games indoors, and then it was time to face the heat. We went downstairs to fire up the grill. We were smart, see, and did NOT do this in the bright heat of day. That would have been abhorrent! As it was, doing so after sundown was hot enough. The temperature difference between the grill side of The Wall and the street side of The Wall was vast.
Which explains why the grill is a-blazin’ and no-one’s standing around it.
Beer was consumed, Brats were eaten, life was good. As I said, we had to split before the rest of the crew arrived, but I did get to meet the local from the group who told me about his shop on St. Claude and how he’s interested in working with local artists on commission. This means I shall have to pay the shop a visit soon!
In a nutshell? A nice Normal New Orleans holiday, hanging out, erranding, wandering, laughing, giving people directions when they’d stop to ask while we were avoiding the flaming grill, even having to leave earlyish because of work the next day. For the first time in the 2.5 months since we arrived, I felt less New, and at least a little more Native. And it rocked.
Featured Image: My thrift-store hat. Still Life.