It’s that season again. It comes and goes, Mardi Gras. Kind of like Christmas it holds the warm nostalgia of yesteryear. Something about the way it was, the way it is now and I guess the way it will be.
So much has changed. The pure cannibalism of it is so different from what I knew. We were crazy, but not that crazy. The shine of insta-pictures has changed the tone to something unrecognizable. The mania of upping the ante on spectacular behavior is a symptom of the times and heaven knows after that terrible event we needed a boost of some kind. We were lost and broken so the influx of tourism, even more than we already knew, was very needed. I guess I wish it came with a different outlook but it’s hard to argue against what it does for the economy.
There’s something about NOLA that you simply wont understand unless you’re from there or you’ve lived there for a long, long time. It’s like ‘Carolina on My Mind’ only ‘Do You Know What It Means to Miss New Orleans’. It’s the idea of King Cakes only being available inside of that small window from the beginning of January until Lent, and at no other times people. It’s Jazz Fest long before it was anywhere to be. It’s every race coming together on the levee for a crayfish boil.
I can’t let my nostalgia allow me to forget the yowling caterwauling that happened during my high school years when NOLA was dragged kicking and screaming out of its unapologetic eighteenth century racism. It’s hard to believe the arguing that went into trying to justify the vile racist beginnings. Move on, lady luck, move on. We’re better than this.
It was sad that year when some of the pedigreed seniority refused to parade because given their distinction they could have truly led the city in turning our faces to the light. Let it go, as the song says. We got things wrong in the past, let’s fix it going forward. It’s not too late. They only looked small and petty as they clung to an ugly past long gone.
I’m not nostalgic for those realities. I’m nostalgic for my youth. Standing at parades in the cold, only being allowed to go to the Metairie ones when I was finally allowed to go without parents, leaving at the crack of dawn to get Uptown to avoid the traffic on Fat Tuesday. It was a fun way to live and I’ll always see it with rose colored glasses. I know the future is only slightly steeped in the past. The rest is uncharted waters, as it should be. But it’s nice having that to look back on.