Our friend Andrea visited us this weekend. It was a bittersweet visit.
Sweet, because it’s always sweet to catch up with close friends.
Bitter, because Andrea and her husband PJ are former New Orleanians who have made the difficult decision not to return. They’re starting over in Indianapolis, or elsewhere, but not here. It is a loss for New Orleans. Check out Andrea’s website to see what we’re losing. I don’t blame them in the least for leaving, but it is sad.
It was bitter, too, when we visited their little house in Broadmoor. This was the first home they ever owned. This is where they lived just after they got married, where they started a family with their little boy who turned one a few months after Katrina. Now, the house seems to be a complete loss, totally devastated. Not only was it flooded, but a good portion of the roof blew off. Water from above and water from below… They lost virtually all their possessions, and the house itself is in pretty sad shape, and it is being devoured by mold.
But the visit ended on a sweet note: We went down to the Marigny for the Krewe du Vieux parade.
If you’ve never seen Krewe du Vieux, it is the smallest of “official” Mardi Gras parades, and the only one that still goes into the French Quarter, and the best parade of the Carnival season. The floats are drawn by donkeys or people — no tractors. To say that the floats are irreverent is a huge understatement. They are vengefully iconoclastic, wickedly satirical, vulgar (sometimes bordering on obscene), clever, hilarious, and wonderful. This parade, more than any other (except maybe the “underground” krewes) exemplifies what I love about New Orleans and Carnival.
The wind was bitterly cold, the coldest weather we’ve had this winter. Even more bitter was the thought that hundreds of thousands of New Orleanians remain displaced from their home city — and may be getting evicted from hotel rooms even now. It won’t be a very happy Mardi Gras for most of us. But ironically, for those who have returned, it might be the most heartening ever. New Orleanians know how to celebrate in the face of adversity.