Everyone fortunate enough to grow up in New Orleans understands that childhood here is a little different than anywhere else. Jazz Fest is an acceptable reason for skipping school. Snowball fights happen in the summer and leave your clothes stained with syrup. I could make both a strong pot of coffee and a strong mimosa by the age of 7. (A good Bloody Mary took somewhat longer to master.) And instead of taking a yellow school bus home from junior high, I caught the streetcar outside of the old Lusher on Carrollton Avenue and rode it down to the Contemporary Arts Center where my mother worked.
I grew up at the CAC, constantly surrounded by amazing modern art, so being in the home of one of this month’s subjects, artist George Dureau, brought back a lot of memories for me. I am happy to be back in the land of hot roast beef poor boys and 70 degree Christmases, but even more so, I am happy to be back in a town so full of creativity.
The Rabins, the subjects of our other home profile, and all of the homeowners on the Junior League of New Orleans Kitchen Tour are my kinds of people, too. All of them lost so much in Katrina, but to a person, they rose to the challenge to create or re-create gorgeous homes within the city. So much has been written about the spirit of New Orleans that there’s nothing more really left to say, and it would all be such a cliché if it weren’t completely true.
One amazing thing about New Orleanians these days is that everyone here now really wants to be here. They wouldn’t put up with it –– with all of the nonsense and frustration that accompanies a 504 area code –– if they weren’t as stupidly in love with this city as I am.
And I’m already working hard at raising the next generation of die-hard New Orleans residents. A sentimental part of my heart is overjoyed when I feed my little girl, Ruby, small bites from a coconut snowball at Pandora’s or watch her toddle around the same City Park I loved as a kid. She’s already addicted to Popeyes red beans and Brocato’s gelato, and I’m hoping that by her second birthday in December, she’ll be dancing the zydeco.
This month, I have Jazz Fest to look forward to, and I’m planning to slather Ruby in sunscreen and take her along. And yes, because I’m raising her like a true New Orleanian, we will both be playing hooky.