Since I have been missing New Orleans an awful lot lately, I was thrilled to receive an invitation to a wedding from my friend Danette and her longtime love Randy. Met through mutual friends in Los Angeles, I’ve known Danette since I lived in New Orleans, where she brought her musician friend Phil (who plays nine instruments) to stay with me in the Garden District and play around town in order to launch her cd in the early 90s. Randy and Danette are bonded in their love for music so they would bond as man and wife at the historic Preservation Hall in the French Quarter and take us on a Second Line to my favorite cocktail spot the Carousel Lounge.
I immediately bought my plane ticket, made arrangements to stay at the Omni Royal Orleans, which has been my goto hotel in the French Quarter since I was five, and started figuring out how many friends I could visit in between wedding festivities and if I could fit in meals at all my favorite places.
First on the list was to have lunch at Galatoire’s, which is always especially lively on Fridays and did not disappoint, which included a table for twelve wedding guests I met and befriended that day and my dear friend Lori Mac, with whom I was a fledgling art dealer when I first moved to New Orleans in 1994. The wedding guests were charmed like everyone who ever had lunch at the French Quarter institution, and we cocktailed and ate amazing creole seafood dishes like one does in the Big Easy.
Up the next day was to have breakfast at Cafe du Monde, stop by the French Market for the Creole Tomato Festival, and go by Fifi Mahony’s for something unique in a wig or hat, which I managed to accomplish in time to get back to the hotel in time to dress for the wedding. My friend John, who has been escorting me to weddings since we were in high school picked me up and we were off to the Hall. The wedding was a music lover’s dream, packed with the love and personal touches that I have come to love from the bride. I made many short clips of the wedding because I knew it would not be easy to find words for it. A couple of hours later, we were lined up to parade in our Second Line. My gift to the couple was a few gross of pearl Mardi Gras beads, which were flung by the guests from our moving block party through the Quarter into the cheering crowds – it was truly the BEST Second Line I have ever participated in. People were joining in and dancing to the fantastic band Danette and Randy chose, parading with us all the way to the Carousel Lounge. Note that I have not complained about the heat yet, but it was hotter than Hades. Being (very) damp did not dampen our spirits – we partied at the lounge, then John and I grabbed po boys to go from Felix’s and I went back to the Royal Orleans to take my third shower of the day and rest up for the brunch and reception the next day.
I was so happy that my sweet friend Marcie and her husband David (and son Max!) made the drive from their home on the Gulf Coast so that we could visit and have brunch at the Palace Cafe’ which will now be on my list of favorites. I started drinking Bloody Marys and that became my drink o’ the day. It was hugs all around and then off to the reception, held at my friend Michael’s mother’s home in Uptown – the perfect place to have more Bloody Marys and eat more – corn muffins, summer salad, hot boiled crawfish and two kinds of wedding cake! I stayed in the air conditioning and we had our traditional sing along where Michael shows that he can play anything on the piano and we sing along. It was so much fun to be in the familiar and share it with new friends. Back at the hotel I had another shower and called it a day.
My last day came too soon, but not so soon that my friend Hal whom I adore personally and professionally, as he is the best designer I know and has the most gorgeously decorated historic home in the Garden District. We had so much fun catching up on New Orleans, our families, the work, and of course we had an amazing meal complete with brandy milk punches at Antoine’s. More hugs and then I had to do one last thing before I left.
I had one hour before the taxi picked me up to walk the Quarter one last time and say a little prayer for my friend Robby in all his favorite places. The anniversary of his death was near, and it was the perfect place for me to do my last goodbye to him and to get my creative and emotional mojo back. I hopped into the taxi and hugged the wonderful bellmen at the Royal Orleans goodbye, and from that point on couldn’t WAIT to get back to my sweet husband and the Critter.