Have you ever seen those billboards advertising homes in the suburbs that proclaim “You Could Be Home?” Those words crossed through my mind several times today as I walked up and down the French Quarter.
When I made up my mind to go to the French Quarter for the Satchmo Festival, I knew that getting down there was part of the experience. Getting to the French Quarter is actually an easier process now that I live in Louisiana. I know what it is like to set out on a winter day from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with snow falling, to visit my sister at UNO. My family is originally from New Orleans, but it has been years since we lived in the heart of the city. I live on the Northshore of the Lake, so this morning I knew it would still be a little while before I actually got on Decatur. From I-12 to I-55 to I-10, I crossed over the spillway and then over the Crescent City Connection to meet a friend of mine for breakfast at Common Grounds in Gretna. We took the Algiers Ferry across the river, and hit the pavement at the Aquarium and IMAX. Now, I have to add that we had a 10 month old in tow, complete with stroller and umbrella to block the sun..
My original thought was to start our excursion the traditional way, with coffee and beignets at the Café du Monde. However, the heat and long lines prevailed, and we ended up at the French Quarter Café eating fried alligator and drinking a few beers (what can I say? The baby had formula.). Our day in the Quarter was fairly typical. We bought some artwork and a pair of earrings and some sunglasses in the French Market, and walked through the Satchmo Festival. We spent a few minutes there, enjoying the jazz music and the locals, who turned out in good numbers with stadium chairs. The Plum St. Snowballs were enticing, as was the artwork on display in Jackson Square..
What really caught my eye, however, were the second floor condos overlooking the French Market. At that point, I was ready to be back in the AC of my car, which was parked in Algiers, and the journey I had embarked on seemed pretty long. I still had to make the trek back to the ferry in platform sandals pushing the stroller. Now, I always notice second story apartments with balconies, because I have one, and I look for ideas on ways to arrange my plants, and what type of plants to grow. Today, as I looked up at the apartments, the thought that crossed my mind was, wouldn’t it be great if I was already home? I have to admit I looked at the people sitting out on their balconies with a bit of envy, not because of the beautiful and historical tourist mecca they lived in, but because they were already home. It seemed they had the best of both worlds..
This thought intensified over the next few hours, as the bulk of the adventure became getting home. Since the baby didn’t start crying until Manchac, which is only about 15 minutes from my house, I have nothing to complain about. And I had created memories and bought a new pair of sunglasses. The day had been typical yet magical at the same time, so many thoughts of childhood times in the Quarter filled my mind. The saying from the billboard however, remained…wouldn’t it have been great if I was already home when I was happily eating alligator?