“I love New Orleans physically. I love the trees and the balmy air and the beautiful days.” Anne Rice
This morning I arrived at Jazz Yoga in the French Market just in time for my favorite pose: savasana. I rock at savasana. It is typically the last pose in any yoga class and it involves lying on your back as if dead and not moving. I’m so good at that one. I was a little late for the hour and a half class, I got there 5 minutes before class ended. So what? Yoga is a no-judgment-zone. But the look on the woman’s face who happened to be right next to me when I plopped my mat down said otherwise. Hey lady, lighten up, it’s Mardi Gras!
Jazz Yoga was a First, but I guess I can’t really count that one. So I went on a Jazz History Tour, another First. I’ve been to New Orleans so many times and I’ve never done any of the tours until this trip. I enjoyed the Jazz Tour which was deeply historical, this place is so full of history. My favorite part was hearing about the Creoles’ contribution to jazz. That is my history.
My family is proudly Creole. Growing up, I always knew what it meant to us. But learning what we meant to New Orleans was special. My mom, her siblings and her parents grew up in New Orleans and have always been deeply connected to their Creole roots. I, on the other hand, grew up in California where I constantly had to explain what Creole meant to inquisitive friends, teachers, boyfriends’ parents, etc. I felt a little like a fish out of water. It hurt when people would say that Creole is not a people, it’s a food. But, at least they knew that much.
When I’m in New Orleans sometimes I hear the way a person twists the pronunciation on a word, and they sound like my grandfather. I get a glimpse of a high cheek bone, reminiscent of my mother’s. I see my freckles on other people’s faces. I see squinty eyes that could belong to my brother. I love hearing about the Creoles, a people that no one group can claim. Of course, the details are romanticized. We are a people born of rape, forced mixing, outcasted and exploited. This city’s expression of pain is through it’s music, art and food. You really understand that when you are here.