Got out of the house and visited with Gothicdweller for a little while today. She’s working on an R&R, and I’m really proud of her.
We got to talking about how we both love New Orleans. It’s a personal recharge for me. There’s just something about the atmosphere and life –past and present– that pulses through that city like no other.
Every writer needs to have somewhere special to retreat and recharge. I don’t care if it’s a short trip to completely different surroundings, a walk in the woods or along the beach at sunrise or sunset, or to sink nose deep in a bubble bath. I have enough of a connection to New Orleans that it’s my retreat.
I can close my eyes and describe stepping down the two shallow grey stone steps into Jackson Square, the sun beating down so hard the umbrellas of the tarot and palm readers are a welcome oasis of shade. The height and facade of surrounding buildings, some with wrought iron witches wheels and harp-shaped shutters, some with columns. Jackson eternally mounted on his steed, mists drifting chill across your skin from the fountain, stately live oaks stretching gnarled branches overhead, all surrounded by wrought iron fences. The musicians and street performers on the lowest level, the flower cart lady, the water xylophone man, the metaphysical people, the artists.
The dull sheen of the stone steps and floor of the Square in the glistening rain, the glow of the street lamp globes shrunken and muted by falling moisture.
Or a moon lit night walk, steps ringing off the slate pathway of Pirates Alley, deep in shadows cast by St. Louis cathedral. You can’t help but listen for disembodied murmurs and watch for the flitting ghosts of Jean Lafitte and his fellow pirates, men who kept the city alive by selling their ill-gotten wares there. If the ghosts are uncooperative, it’s still entertaining to listen to the priests chastise the vampire wannabes and gothic youth from behind the cathedral gates. They ignore the admonitions, black-garbed figures darting through shadows between pools of light, their youthful laughter floating in the humid air.
I can tell you about the bustle of the French Market, the rich scents of cafe au lait and beignets from Cafe Du Monde, clanging trolley car rides through the Garden District. The clip-clop of a horse-drawn carriage ride, the droning voice of the driver regaling passengers with the city’s colorful history. Then there are the freighters slipping like behemoths up and down the Mississippi Riverfront, sounding long mournful blasts as they prepare to pass on the one whistle or two whistle side of other ships. The haunting notes of the Calliope that announces the departure of the paddle-wheeler river boat. Savory burgers topped with cool slices of avocado at Yo Mama’s, a quick stop at Reverend Zombie’s for books, candles and incense or to start a Haunted History Tour, all near each other on St. Peter. The midnight opening of The Dungeon, the Vampire hangout on Toulouse, different crowds on multiple levels. I can tell you about getting off the beaten path, back to the wall and staring down would be muggers, knife held low in my hand; a friend swinging the hell out of the buckle end of a camera strap in a pretty respectable imitation of Jackie Chan.
Ethnic foods from so many cultures, Voodoo shops, swamp tours, Cemetery Tours and Marie Leveau, the Voodoo Queen of New Orleans. The Louisiana Museum, the Cabildo, the Mardi Gras Museum, and Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop, the oldest bar in the U.S.. Rich in history, there’s something in this city for everyone.
For a writer, it’s a paradise of fact, fiction and nuance. I’ll be headed there next weekend. Visit with my metaphysical friends, indulge in multiple culinary delights, absorb unique insights and landmarks to use in my next book.
You now know my secret getaway. I’d like to know yours. What do you do and where do you go to recharge?