**Rosa Parks Muses Shoe by Stacy Dobbins-Deitelzweig**
By Elizabeth Beller
Tom and I left Manhattan in 2008. We loved the city, especially our street in the West Village, lined with callery pear trees whose spring petals were like white pieces of confetti. But then reality set in. Or at least our reality. We are writers. Who wanted to have kids. Time to move.
But I had just managed, after fifteen years, to get New York City legs under me! Some people were even beginning to think of me as a fellow Manhattanite! And now Tom was interviewing for a teaching position all over the place, including some godforsaken, boxy, flyover states covered in snow (yeah, I said it. Snow.)
When he got the offer from Tulane, we were simultaneously seized with joy and terror. A very fitting combination for our prospective city. It’s a magical, dangerous place. Stunning beauty belies mysterious undercurrents that rule the land. Nothing epitomizes these dichotomies like the city’s unparalleled celebration of Mardi Gras. Unlike Manhattan, the locals are more than pleased to welcome new blood. It is a warm place in several senses of the word. I asked a lifetime Orleanean recently when they consider a rube a local: “When they cross the Louisiana state line.”
There is supposedly no direct French translation for Laissez les bons temps rouler, but we know it means ‘Let the good times roll.’ Incongruity is to be expected in New Orleans.
This is especially true of the Muses parade, our favorite, which rolled Thursday night. A woman decked out in a green tinsel wig walked up to our group on the porch. She was on her phone. “He’s not on parole”, she said, and then offered the lot of us jello shots. The public defenders know how to celebrate. I was nonplussed for exactly NOT ONE MOMENT before I had to rush at float number nine, bearing friends of ours, to yell for them to throw glittered shoes. A sure sign we’ve been localized. Though it should be said that another sure sign of being a local, in New Orleans, is getting the hell out of town. Often to go skiing.
But honestly, after our five years here, I still feel like I have no idea what’s going on: so much happens, but on a quieter, behind-pulled-curtains scale. It’s like Alice in Wonderland, where things get curiouser and curiouser, but it all somehow makes sense. Mardi Gras is Nola’s way of bringing the mystery to the surface, like fun house smoke and mirrors that suddenly reveal their source.