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I haven’t quite felt so intrusive and so welcomed simultaneously. I creeped on houses that were the colors of my Barbie’s, and snapped shots of shutters and iron rod gates and sprawling stoops; everywhere. The hostel we stayed in was so much bigger than it appeared from first look, and we passed through rooms and into the courtyard and up the stairs and through the kitchen and dining room before reaching our spacious and comfortable room. We settled in and walked a couple blocks to sudden activity, had a cheap drink at a novelty dive bar called the John, noticed the moons on the door and the toileted decor, and went on to discover three or four little blocks of bars where music spilled more freely than the drinks.
Satisfied with our little taste, we went to bed to rise early and greet this lovely town with a bike ride, easy along boulevards and suddenly far reaching as we wound around City Park and back through the Bywater to find some delicious oysters and fried green tomatoes at Elisabeth’s. We wandered through the French Quarter and down Royal and had beignets and looked at all the pretty things and down along the waterfront until it was time to go back to have homemade jambalaya at the hostel. And suddenly we had ten new friends from around the world and we were swapping stories from London and Berlin and New Zealand and arguing and drinking and smoking and laughing. I translated some of the conversations for a boy who spoke mostly only French. Finally we stumbled out to a bar and then another and another, losing each other to find each other again at the next bar, dancing and talking about boys and smoking some more. One bar had porn on the wall, another had a reggae band, and then there was a dark den of a dance floor. We danced some more. We slowly separated from each other and a couple of us lingered in the smokers room sharing songs on our phones while enjoying another smoke before retiring at 3 am.
We ate delicious po’ boys and grits and our waitress was the sweetest thing and called us sugars and honeys and babies all morning. We went to the Louis Armstrong Park and it was so pleasant, and wandered down Bourbon Street and did more shopping, actually buying some treasures. Despite the smell along the lit and loud and drunken street, we had a drink in a courtyard and enjoyed the band and I had me a sazarac. We walked into Madame Levaeu’s voodoo shop and the energy was immediately thick and palpable and not warm so I quickly walked back out again, not wanting to touch anything or buy anything or even look at anything. Witchcraft. Whoa.
We tried to ride the trolley and met up with our friends from the hostel at the free jazz in the park and it was fabulous fun. We went out on Frenchman’s again and danced and drank and rolled from bar to bar and saw more live music and more bands and dancing in the street. We partied till the sun came up and had some late night hot tub action.
We revelled in the heat and humidity and wandered over to the Death Museum and thought about the meaning of life and death. We walked downtown along the strip and caught the trolley to the French Market and wandered some more around the French Quarter and got some souvenirs and pretty clothes. We packed our things and took a nap and then got ready to go out for a fancy dinner at Cafe Henri, where our bartender that took care of us had worked in Chicago at more than one of our fave spots, had mutual friends, and it just so happened that there were other boys from Chicago down the bar from us. Small ass world. We went to the dive bar Saturn and saw some great bands and felt right at home in the hipster hood of the Bywater. We bar hopped a little bit on the way back to the hostel, got Carly a classic playgirl cut out from an adorable old bookstore, and enjoyed one more street beer and one more cigarette back at the hostel, and could not retire without telling off the asshole drunk hostel worker, because he was trying to tell us how hard white boys have it because they get into bar fights that fuck up his drawing hand. I told him he needed to work on his approach and whatever he was trying to say was coming out all wrong. The girls that worked at the hostel applauded us as we went to our room for one last sleep in that lovely old house.
We walked out early that morning and bid adieu to our friends who had stayed up and were still in the hot tub at 6am when we were leaving. We established relationships on social media and hugged and kissed each other good bye. Hoping to run into more than one of these beautiful people again someday.
It was a great trip. I can’t wait to go back.