It’s 11pm on a Wednesday, needless to say, the party is just getting started on Bourbon Street New Orleans. The masquerades with high expectations are arriving. The arteries start to flow in earnest: the music, the beer, the human-misery undertone. The last one keeps the former two company nicely. Vacationers here for the Jazz fest huddle at the bar-counter reminiscing the good times they just had during the day. You can tell they are not that impressed by this crowd. For it is but a chaser, the crazy after-party that never seems to end. It’s truly a testament to human endurance on the locals’ part.
On the street, there is all kind of humanity now. Most of them holding their beer as if it’s the Holy Water that can protect them from whatever ghost from their past. What I think though is that they are here to secretly rendezvous with their ghost. A glimpse of the damp, dark but warm and storied grave that this must feel like, with shadows of people too sober to be recognized, and consciousness too drunk to recollect. It’s a good feeling, you can get drunk without the beer this way. Being among this many people cheering, split-second decision making around you, you can’t help but feel alive. And there’s danger too, even better. The indifferent paces signal that they have seen more and ignored for less. Things happen on the street, this is where we celebrate both the real and the unreal. In this fervent twilight, we party till dawn when our soul crawls back to sleep.
There’s nowhere I’d like to go but to visit the Tree of Life right next to the Audubon Zoo. I don’t know what an old oak tree should look like but this one looks young to me. And welcoming. With low trunk-like branches that shade you from the New Orleans sun and provide an almost hammock like nook for laying on. It is the tree of my dream. But I am reminded of something else that happened to the trees, or rather what these trees bared witness to. As I drink in the peaceful setting, on a warm afternoon, with other equally impressed visitors enjoying the same tranquility, I start to browse about lynching on my phone. If you want to look, remember Mary Turner. I try to unsee the torn black bodies hanging from the tree that I’m hanging about on. But something sweet hit the back of my tongue, to my surprise.
As I watch the Mississipi river flows before me now, carrying the cargos and garbages alike upstream and downstream, I can’t help but feel its disquiet. This river has been disturbed, and yet it’s silent like it’s gathering its strength. The sweetness transforms me, it soothes me to know that we are of the great people who are accepting of their fate, and still carrying on.