Thursday, September 06, 2018

My Mardi Gras Experiment

When I was a sophomore in college, I visited one of my best friends who was in school at Loyola New Orleans. I made sure to time my visit to him during Mardi Gras because I wanted to see what all the fuss was about.  I can't think of worse accomodations I have experienced.  They were cheap, because I was just a guest of my friend, but I was mostly on the floor of a suite-style dorm room of 4 college guys who lived in various states of filth.  My friend, Brian, fortunately, had a girlfriend at the time so I got to sleep in his bed and he would stay with her.  And he had a fairly clean room.  But the common areas were...not great. What follows are bullet points I wrote down during the trip and I will try to piece together memories and stories from these bullet points and expand on them as I'm able to, decades later.

Day 1 
I arrive in New Orleans and take a cab from the airport.  We all meet at Brian's dorm and hang out for a bit. Two other girls who we knew from high school were also coming. We all met up and then went to a party at Brian's fraternity that night.

  • Erica, wasted, pours out her heart to me before passing out under a mattress cover
  • Brian covered in Jungle Juice could not stop saying "honestly" and "old school"
  • Brian incapable of walking in a straight line
  • Erica hitting on Nick Diaz of the Nick Diaz Experiment/Experience.  I'm still not sure which one is right. I think it was his band, though I'm not sure about that either. 
  • Erica peeing in someone's front yard
  • Colin (Nick Diaz's friend) and I bonding about old-school rap tracks.  
That was such a strange night.  I could see how out of place I was in that environment and with Mardi Gras in general almost immediately.  But I knew I was getting what I bargained for.  I really wanted to see if all the stories were true.  William and Mary is pretty tame as far as party schools go.  And I knew that and that's part of the reason I chose it.  And I guess I just wanted to see Brian in his native environment and see what his life was like down there. And I definitely wanted to see Mardi Gras.  

There is an interesting theme emerging. I notice that in many aspects of my life, especially when it comes to travel, if someone tells me about a thing I have to experience, I take them at their word and I will do all I can to try and experience it.  I have gone FAR out of my way, many many times over, on many different trips, to do things that I remember someone, from somewhere, telling me about one time.  Of course this is true with very meaningful people in my life, but I have bent over backwards to do things that people on airplanes told me to do, and I never even knew their names.  

There is a craving for experience that is prevalent in my life. It still manifests itself today often.  That is interesting. I will have to think about that.  

Day 2 
  •  Erica and Brian remember absolutely nothing about the night before
  • Suzi got smacked in the head with beads
  • Krewe of Midtown and Bacchus were the parades we saw
  • we couldn't get a cab to save our lives
  • Bourbon Street...let us never speak of it again
  • trying to get real food at Rite-Aid
  • Metallica and flying down St. Charles downtown
  • the man in assless chaps on Bourbon St. 
  • Freestyle Simon
  • Where's Brian?
I remember very little of this day, other than walking to Bourbon Street from campus and seeing the absolute mess the city was in. I'm most sad about not remember who Freestyle Simon was.  He sounds like he was probably pretty cool. This was pre-Katrina New Orleans, by the way.  Everything smelled, the streets were filthy, so were most of the people, the air was damp and moldy because of stale beer everywhere... it was kinda gross all the way around. Not to mention my living quarters.  Sometimes exploring things just isn't all it's cracked up to be.  Also, I was doing budget Mardi Gras.  College try Mardi Gras.  It was never going to be good. Let's be real. 

Day 3 
  • Riverwalk (boring) 
  • crazy cab drivers
  • bad waiter at Cafe du Monde
  • pralines (bright spot!) 
  • Decatur street (beautiful)
  • poured rain all day
Day 4 
Actual Mardi Gras
Beads in all the colors of the rainbow
I got a Coconut from the Zulu parade!
there was a guy who was catching beads for me
CRAZY costumes
my flight got cancelled. 

I don't think I've ever been so relieved to leave a place. Suzi and Erica stayed longer in NOLA but I was so glad I was leaving when I did.  I got to enjoy a little more of my Spring break at home.  And feel clean.  I don't think I ever need to see another Mardi Gras.  Anywhere. The Caribbean version I experienced, Carnaval, was much better. I would do that again for sure. I'll see if I can add some pictures to this entry to round out what memories I have.  But I'm pretty sure I don't have much to offer.  I'm not sad  I did it.  But I'm really glad I went back to NOLA for Brian's wedding a few years later and got to see non-Mardi Gras quiet, and enjoy the city in a different light, with lots more friends, and in a normal hotel room.  

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