I have just come back from my trip and conference in New Orleans. We arrived in the city on Thursday afternoon and headed first to Magazine Street to get a bite to eat. First stop—Funrockin’ (their new store on Magazine) to say hello to the owners who are great friends of ours. Nice place—you should check it out. Next (after picking up a few things at Funky Monkey) we headed to Nacho Mama for lunch (we know the owner and sat down with him for a bit). After lunch, we headed to see our artist friend Simon on Magazine (Magazine and Jackson) and spent time in his shop (buying another piece for the house, as we usually do). Finally, we headed to our “hotel” (I can’t believe I was doing that) and then walked into the French Quarter. Other than checking into a “hotel,” it was as if we had never left. By the time we make it to the Mississippi River and stroll on the Moonwalk, I am pretty much overcome with emotion and begin to cry. How can I be “visiting” the city I “live” in? How can I live anywhere else? This was (and still is) the most perfect place for me to live. My wife and I know, though, that “reality” dictates that we can’t live here right now. We rationalize that maybe someday we will be back as permanent residents. We leave the River, walk back into the Quarter, see friends on almost every block, engage in conversations that take us into the early sunset, and this time both of us cry at all the things we miss in the city….
I can only visit my “centrality of place” these days. Many of you are probably in the same situation. It was an incredible trip back home, and though the Times-Picayune did interview me after I gave my paper presentation on how exiles are recreating New Orleans culture in their current places of residence, I did not see the interview mentioned at all the rest of the weekend. It was good to be back home, and we will be back for French Quarter Fest later next month.