Saturday, sacred night Sola and I go to the Marigny to Lower Decatur in the French Quarter, we walk 7 blocks through our dirty streets it is a warm February night it is a young night yet. We wear our best and most extravagant and weird and sexy and wrong. We are attending the infamous Krewe Du Vieux parade, it is Carnival Season in New Orleans, Louisiana
There are saints in white and gold lace dripping from crowned heads they are blindfolded they hold scales and are lit with soft glowing lights in their hair, they are Dr. Sandra Ford, Lady Justice. They peer knowingly at the crowd and slowly march past with a solemnness that is unusual for a parade like this. In dizzying contrast, next arrives a giant paper-mache Putin holding a baby Trump like a tiny screaming sock puppet meanders by, fist in ass. Next is a float and marchers that parody the construction issues in NOLA they carry signs that say on one side “stop” and on the back “twerk”, and the crowd, eager for revelry, obeys the turn of the signs as squealing women wearing nothing but caution tape march past.
Nuns and priests and the pope himself saunter by with paddles, spanking the crowd’s asses if you bend over to receive.
They hand out weed wrappers and lube and all handmade throws. The parade is entirely walking, save for small human or mule drawn floats.
We get drinks, a whiskey and ginger ale for me and a vodka cranberry for Sola at a new “goth” bar, used to be Pravda so long ago, used to be a lesbian Riot Grrl bar before that, Sola says. Inside men place themselves close to me at the bar side, inviting a hello from me as I ignore and turn to my best friend. Not out of boredom or lack of attraction, but not wanting to deal with men lately. Outside, and a tall and handsome punk man with a lavender mohawk, not spiked, jokes with us and playfully flirts.
I fall in love with Sola over and over again I watch out for her when she goes to the restroom and we talk about fear of men. Katie joins us, she is so small in the crowd and can’t see the parade. Eventually I help her to the front, and she is alive, a local through and through. Archer and Edward join us, both a little insecure but radiating anxious smiles, and I am thrilled to see them. Next floats by an alien in bondage with a giant green penis, gagged and hung high above the crowd, Sola and I scream and beg to be abducted. It says, “In space, no one can hear your safe word.” Sola gives her weed wrappers to Archer, her fiance, and hands a couple packs of them to a fellow parade goer behind her because at Carnival we share.S
Edward, strange but kind. Sweet but not forcing his charm. Authentic. Small diamond earrings, nice shoes, some type of chain around his neck but under his tee shirt, peeking as it lays across his neck and collarbones. Skin of his kind face a little affected by faking many smiles.
Says people don’t respect new money but he is just as excited to tell us all about his pet bird.
Does not pretend to be tough or to be a good guy. They ask us girls if we want to go to their office in the CBD and hang out on the rooftop patio, with a view of the whole city. They offer us beers and iced coffee on tap.
How. Could. I. Say. No.
We walk and walk and the crowd fades from locals to tourists, Sola and I climb the streetlights and she twerks and tourists want to stay a bit longer in New Orleans, Louisiana. I’m jumping and climbing on anything I can, and we arrive at a chic building, elevator up, up, on a sterile and dead quiet shared office space. All windows, all glass you can see everything, dozens of rooms, floors and stairs up and down and real succulents it is a jungle it is empty and horrifying and I am lost and I want to cry I am stuck on a landing the doors are locked it’s glass all around me and drop off to floor so so far below there is nowhere to hide I hear Sola calling I don’t know where, an infinite soft echo her voice a hallucination. In my head I imagine myself folding and crumpling and crying and hair messy and makeup running and Edward or Archer finding me and consoling me and telling me it’s all going to be okay and they pick me up and just hold me.
Here this is my reason to cry, here I have found my chance. A valid reason to request comfort. A fear you can see and measure.
Sola finds me and we ascend to the rooftop patio, I awake to a perfect mist a gray embrace holding the skyscrapers together, remaining in comfort the Holy Ghost, lingering low and spending time with the children. The city on fire of mist and the fog illuminated by the shallow and excited breathing of our shared ecstasy, wild beauty.
Sola is so beautiful; this light does her justice and I insist on taking photos of her and she offers to take some of me. I hear a voice calling and Archer hears it also, a person stands somewhere in the infinite possibility of surrounding sky scrapers, with infinite reasons to be speaking into the darkness. On a ledge near the edge I lie flat on my back and push up, hands and feet and back curved high, I enter a full and deep wheel, with my leg and toe extended directly up.
This electricity carries us to Archer’s car where we enter and they play loud 90s rap
and Katie rises like the moon, like the irrepressible sun, refusing to stay quiet, through the window and shouts at the tourists,
the passerby through the CBD and French Quarter and we laugh and laugh until we are all hoarse and Archer is so happy and I scream a joke at a cute Pedicab driver and we laugh and all go home and sleep very, very, deep and well.
There exists a part of me in terror in Archer’s car with Edward up front and I think of what they could do and if I am in danger and I tell myself that one is Sola’s fiancé and the other a close friend and Katie and I will be okay and I choose to let those thoughts pass by and I cannot lie that part of that fear is thrilling too.