You might want to sit down for this. It’s about my one-week crazy-filled stay in Treme, New Orleans. Yes, that same infamous neighborhood from the HBO TV series. Yes, the ethnically diverse hood of New Orleans. Yes, that same neighborhood raddled and devastated by Hurricane Katrina, but somehow still hanging on.
… Slowly waking up to a jazz tune in the distance, I lay still for a minute trying to make sense of this new place. The music was the only warm, familiar sound in this humid, unfamiliar place.
Was I in a dream? Did I just travel for 2 days to get here? Why am I on an air mattress surrounded by all my luggage? Umm, are we in the ghetto?
Is that Miles Davis or Johnny Coltrane? Recalling the only Jazz musicians I knew of, I decided it must be a Miles Davis greatest hit or something.
Getting up and almost tripping over the saving grace that brought me here –– my postcards and 1,000 Places to See Before I Die book –– I peer down at my discombobulated silhouette in the half mirror up against the wall. I most definitely was up WAY too late last night, evident by my backwards PJs and the rat’s nest living up top.
Around the corner, the iHome in the kitchen is singing a jazz tune –– not Miles Davis actually –– and there’s about 20 more tunes scribbled down on a bev nap on the stained wood island in the middle of the kitchen. The scene reminds me of an artist’s working studio, not quite yet polished to perfection. Naturally looking for the easel and paint brushes, instead I find framed photos leaning up against a box. Whoever lives here are artists in a way, just moving in.
I see my 2 new housemates, chipper and up early, chatting about how good the brew is, Community Coffee, and where they are going tonight on “Frenchmen Street.”
DANA:: Good mornin.’ Oh, watch out for the boxes! And those are new songs we heard on Frenchmen Street last night at the Spotted Cat. You’re coming with next time, right?
In the distance, two vertical 10-foot windows open up to a sunny view of the charter school across the street. It has barbed wires and prison-like fences surrounding the perimeter, reminding me of the Shawshank Redemption movie.
SARAH:: After the storm, the city took over and made all the public schools chartered to gain funding and raise the education standards. Still working on it, but it’s a work in progress. Dana:: Funny, before work we usually sip coffee and watch the kids hang out in the school yard. Yesterday, two were tackling each other and Sarah randomly yelled outside, “Knock it off!” We instantly jumped back and hid. It was hilarious! Sarah:: Same time tomorrow, ladies? Me:: Haha, where exactly are we in New Orleans again? Dana:: Treme… yes, as in the TV show. But, don’t worry, it’s neat, historical and where all the big brass bands you’ve heard of all started. You just have to be smart and careful outside, though. It gets a little rough in parts. Sarah:: Trust me. It’s not as bad as Google tells you. It’s simply eclectic.
You can tell they’ve been here for a while. Both are grad students and stuck around New Orleans after undergrad because they loved it that much.
DANA:: Well I’m off. I usually ride my bike down Esplanade to the birthing center. I’m a mid-wife’s assistant. Good luck with your job hunt today!
Damn those 9-5’s and having one. Maybe I could become an assistant to the mid-wife’s assistant. Forgot to ask if she was hiring. Maybe next time.