Like with many people, life hasn’t always been gentle with me. Moving to Los Angeles was entirely my idea and there were many things I loved about the city and its people, but within the first two years, I weathered a divorce, cancer surgery, the 1992 earthquake, 3 moves, a career change and being thousands of miles from my family and friends for all of that. My first few months here haven’t been a piece of cake either and yet every day, I feel better, stronger, more myself, happier.
I remember when a business partner and I were here last year, he was downright disturbed by the people and within the first 24 hours, had to ask, Why are the people here so… nice?” I answered that it was because they’re happy. I’m always reluctant to say anything negative about a place I chose as my home for nearly 2 decades, but I didn’t find most people in Los Angeles to be happy. I’m not even sure it was a goal there. People move there to pursue a dream, to find their fortune and/or fame, not to find love, make a home for themselves, be happy. Maybe I’m just a jackass for wanting to have my cake and eat it too – I got to do something I love for a living for 15 years. Maybe that was supposed to be enough.
But, I’m no career gal. I love my work, but I don’t live for it. Among the many reasons I moved here was to start anew, experience a rebirth, return to the girl I was before D.C., New York and L.A. took their toll, made me tough. Alas, that girl is no more and the woman left in the wake of becoming a “survivor” is a bit shell-shocked. There’s a song that I always felt described my time in L.A. fairly well, Carnival by Natalie Merchant.
I loved the Oz-like quality of the emerald castles, the dancing lions and tin men and scarecrows, the razzle dazzle of a good show with imaginative costumes in Technicolor, but I almost never forgot that there was a little old man behind the curtain, that it was all a big show and that my home was within me. L.A. can be seductive in the way that drugs and loose women are – a momentary dance with something magical that turns tawdry by morning.
I was hoping that Easter would be a powerful rebirth for me and it was, but, as John Lennon said, “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.” Every plan I had for Easter was either cancelled or changed. The day life had planned included my family coming across the lake to New Orleans for Easter for the first time. Rather than drive an hour across the longest bridge in the world, I got dropped off by my neighbor 2 miles from our house – right in the heart of the French Quarter, less than a block from the Chris Owens parade on Bourbon Street. Chris Owens has been a renowned burlesque dancer since the early 1960’s. At 70, she’s still the life of the party at her famous nightclub.
Family arrived from as far away as Lafayette and we spent the day visiting, eating, laughing and making 3-D sidewalk chalk drawings and taking turns with the glasses. I went for several walks – to Jackson Square, to the mighty mighty Mississippi, down Royal Street a bit, another trip to Jackson Square, etc. It was a gorgeous day for walking. The bitterly cold winter has afforded us the rare treat of a true Spring with balmy temperatures and gentle breezes.
I wish I had photos of all the hundreds of wonderful Easter bonnets both men and women were wearing. Some were elegant, some fanciful, some silly – all showy. It seems lately, everywhere I go, I see versions of bouquets of Spring flowers. From the wreaths and gardens of the Garden District in full bloom, to the bright pink, purple and blue plumes of the Mardi Gras Indians last Sunday, to the pastel green, yellow and lavender bonnets of Easter, Spring is being welcomed in every form and fashion.
I missed the gay parade, but I did get to see some of the men in drag wandering the Quarter and I spent more time visiting than parading so my video is limited but picture lots more floats of Miss Owens’ friends and former burlesque dancers. The bloom may be off some of these roses, but make no mistake – these are sexy, fun women and the crowd loves them.