I spent the last week in New Orleans. Tuesday was Mardi Gras. It was cold and rainy and I had the most fantastic time.
In the morning, my friend and I went to The Backstreet Cultural Museum, over in Treme. We watched one of the witch doctors bless the museum, watched the skeleton crew dance up, playing with the kids in the street, the music from cowbells and handheld drums.
Later that evening after the parades we ventured back out to Bourbon street. So many people were in costumes! It isn’t quite like a con, it’s New Orleans. It’s difficult to explain the difference, except that no one is judging the quality or creativity–it’s just a time to be different. (My favorite costume was Iron Man – he had an iron attached to his handy utility belt, and the “shield” on his arm was actually an ironing board.)
All Mardi Gras, I wore my friend’s knee-length white-fur coat. I also wear white prescription glasses, and my hair is longish and silver streaked. I know I stood out.
Balconies line Bourbon street, that people rent during Mardi Gras (and during other festivals as well.) They stand up on the balconies and throw beads at the people walking in the street.
I was only interested in long strings of beads. For the most part, all I had to do was walk up to an individual and point, and they would throw me their beads.
It was amazing. I felt like royalty.
And then I realized that I was the Lady in White, who, on the eve of Mardi Gras, only collected beads and not souls.
I looked at all the costumes differently from then on: the black unicorn with her regal mane, the jesters who had bones sticking out of the backs of their jackets, the ravens and the wild cats dancing in the street. All of them transformed into characters in this story I had playing in my head.
So yes, Mardi Gras was magical. And inspiring. And you’ll probably see these characters in a story sometime.
What about you? When was the last time you were someplace magical?