I don't often make it to the Vieux Carre on Saturday afternoons. I should make it a point to do so -- even with the masses of tourists, it's my favorite day to go downtown. I met with a friend today at Cafe Envie, an open-air coffee shop on a corner, and I'm so very thankful we chose to meet downtown. There was a small festival across the street at the old U.S. Mint, and the salsa and merengue music was infectious. I wanted to dance in the streets! It was a gorgeous, cool, breezy day, and after our meeting we wandered through a few thrift stores and down to Jackson Square to visit a friend who was selling his art. All the artists, street performers, and psychics were spread around the Square walkways, and I was grateful that I only had $3 in my wallet or else I would have purchased several pieces. I wish I could put the Quarter into words. It's old worlde and new, artistic and messy, all structured by the simplicity of a grid. It's a charming place. I love that I can't go two blocks there without experiencing live music, the smells of fresh seafood, and puppy kisses.
Once upon a time, I fell in love with this city. I fell in love with a girl, simultaneously, and for a long time I think I confused the two. I thought of this city as hers -- or ours -- in a lot of ways. When we broke up, I grieved that attachment. But part of the challenge (and the delight) of the last few months has been my own process of rediscovery. I'm finding that fried plantains are just as good without her. The streets shine just as much in the wake of an afternoon rainstorm. The Pontchartrain still calls to me when I'm feeling lost and lonely. I love a beer at three in the morning -- maybe even more so than I did before -- on the porch surrounded by friends.
I have a nasty tendency to nest and hole up at home when I'm in relationships. Partially, that's because I keep so busy -- always going with work and school and volunteer projects and queer events and... -- that when I get a free moment, I want to spend it with whomever I'm dating. When I'm single, my priorities change, and I redirect that energy toward a social life. I look outward, instead of inward. I've met so many amazing people in NOLA because I'm taking chances, spending time building relationships, and connecting into the people that have become a transient, local family to me. I've had several people ask if I'm "dating" -- but the truth is, I don't want to. I don't want a partner. I don't want to pour energy into looking for one. I want to wander, dance in the streets, and enjoy what it means to wake up alone. I want to touch on each museum, each festival. I want to try all the foods (!) and I want to paint in the park. I want to dance on the bar and drink in alleyways. As a friend (or her mother) says, "being alone doesn't mean being lonely." It just means... being.