I parked in front of the hotel on St. Charles in the heart of New Orleans at three o'clock.
No rush hour traffic, no babies babbling in the backseat, no pre-schoolers pleading for potty breaks. Just me, with nothing on the agenda but a romantic twenty-two hours in the Big Easy with him. It was really happening. I think I half expected one of the kids to get sick or have some emergency that would require us to cancel our plans. But no, everything went so smoothly--heavenly even (and I'm not sure the French Quarter has ever been described in such a term before but for me and for this weekend it was).
He parked in front of the hotel on St. Charles at 3:45. And I was waiting in the lobby. He was still in his work clothes, his hair windblown and his boots dirty, but to me he looked positively wonderful and more dangerously handsome than ever. It was almost like seeing him through new eyes. Eyes that have long loved him, but haven't had the luxury of seeing only him for too long, features that my heart memorized and was now anxious to rehearse.
We rode his motorcycle through the French Quarter in the haze of an afternoon sun and a lazy breeze. Winding in and out of narrow streets and the hordes of people. And when we tired of that, we walked till the sun set over the St. Louis Cathedral, our feet tapping in rhythm with the city of jazz. We stopped by our favorite shops, listened to music at Cafe du Monde, and then ate dinner beneath a canopy of lights twined through ancient oaks at the enchanting Court of Two Sisters.
Lights twinkling overhead and a fountain gushing behind us, we talked about how well we remember what it was like to be young and hopelessly in love, and how this is even better. The years add strength to passion, patience and understanding, acceptance and thankfulness for the differences. There's a deep appreciation for the other, after having walked together through sunshine and rain and all kinds of weather. Less selfish in love, more selfless.
|photos: French Quarter streets, band in Cafe du Monde, St. Louis Cathedral taken with iphone, sorry for the blur|
We woke up the next day to a glorious morning, a radiant but gentle autumn sun and a steady breeze that's rare in New Orleans. We ate breakfast in the outdoor French Market Cafe, while a jazz band played Louis Armstrong's A Kiss to Build a Dream On (click on this song and it will make you incredibly happy, I promise). Everyone should wake up to this kind of breakfast. Every single day. And a few kisses for good measure, of course.
|The French Market Cafe|
We rarely visit the French Quarter without strolling through the French Market. It's colorful, gaudy, and always packed with people. My favorite wares are the handmade goods from Senegal, Africa. Nine years ago, when we were dating, I bought a pair of handmade African sandals that I literally wore till they were in shreds. I loved them. My man expertly maneuvered me toward that ethnic vendor and insisted I get another pair.
|French Market wares and African sandals|
We left the Market and strolled through the French Quarter, hand in hand and carefree. We turned down Royal Street and meandered towards the riverfront. The sun was soft on the quaint streets splashed with bright shutters and adorned with intricate fern laden balconies. My steps were lazy and my gaze was full. I didn't realize just exactly where he was headed until he stopped in the exact same spot he proposed to me in Jackson Square, right in front of the towering and prisitine St. Louis Cathedral. I laughed at him then and I laughed with him now (he wasn't laughing the first time--he was deadly serious and I don't think I had ever seen him that nervous before, of course, laughing at him didn't help...) Memories now overlapping and more treasured than ever.
|My gorgeous man, Royal Street, and where he proposed to me in Jackson Square|
|St. Louis Cathedral, and Joel riding through the Warehouse District, one of my favorite areas downtown|
|Funky Monkey (one of our favorite shops), Joel and I on Magazine Street, and me|
(all photos in this post taken with my iphone so please pardon the pixelation)
Ah my man and Vieux Carre, thank you for a weekend to build a dream on. It was a dream within itself.