Tuesday, February 28, 2006

An Unkempt Daughter of a Mardi Gras Queen

That would be me. What, you understandably ask, happened? Heck if I know. Somehow I neither inherited nor learned my mother's easy grace with clothes and home decorating and style in general. She can poke around in her closets and come up with something elegant and unusual. I poke around in mine and find... black pants, blouses of various colors, and hand-knit cardigans. Period. She came home recently from a day spent antique-ing with an old screen door that she wanted to hang on the wall. I haven't seen this creation, but I'll bet it's interesting and artistic. If I did the same thing, I would just have a screen door on the wall, and it would be stupid.

What I tell people is that if I thought these things were important, I would spend some energy learning about them. What I know deep down, though, is that these things are important, and I'm afraid that I can't figure them out. So I don't try. On the other hand, I'm not a complete basket case. I know that I have other skills and other experiences and training that allow me to contribute to the world in ways different from my mother. I've crafted a life that I like. It lacks artistry, I concede, but there's an exuberance to it... a spirit, if you will, that is mine and no one else's. Raging insecurities aside, I've made something new.

And today, on Mardi Gras, the mardi gras queens of a certain age reign from their floats again. And this year's celebration has a poignancy to it that's hard to overlook. If New Orleans were a person, I'd know exactly how she feels. I'll never be as good as the former effort. I can't do what the former queen did. Why the HELL can't I look like she did?

I'm here to tell you, new New Orleans, that it's going to be okay. You're absolutely right. You won't do what the old queen did. But you'll do your own new thing -a thing that's never existed before. A thing we've been waiting for you to do for the world. Check your insecurities at the Riverwalk; there's good stuff yet to come.

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