Hanging Out in New Orleans.

I was intrigued by the title of this essay: “When Did You Last Hang Out?” I clicked the link. The unexamined life is not worth living.  I spend most of my time hanging out in New Orleans.  Everybody does.

I have to admit that I am hanging out with the chickens in my back garden as I write this. I had one eye on them as I read this lady’s essay about hanging out, so I was only half paying attention. She makes hanging out seem something rare.

In New Orleans, all we do is hang out.

The texture of life is different in New Orleans.

Even when people are working, they are just hanging out. Even the plumber. The plumber just happens to be doing it with a wrench. This is why it takes forever for anything to get done here, everybody is just hanging out.

Wanna talk about it?

“We are going to have the best Mardi Gras ever next year.”  I hear this phrase several times a week.

People in New Orleans always have the big picture in mind, something more than the task at hand. Everything its place.

In New Orleans, first things come first. Second things come second. Third things can wait until tomorrow because it is time to go hang out someplace else. Time is fungible in New Orleans.  Mardi Gras is just around the corner.

Living in New Orleans we are aware that we are part of something special. We all do what we can to survive. This is why we go out of our way to stay interconnected. It is why we have different values than the outside world. It is why we have our own language.

In St. Bernard Parish, just downriver from New Orleans, for the Yats who live there, the first order of business is always, “Where y’at?”  In Orleans Parish, the first question between Creoles is, “How’s your momenem?”

Live in New Orleans long enough and the city will drive you crazy. The slow-moving uncontrolled chaos is impossible to behold without awe. You may go back to the real world after living here for five years, but you will be a changed person.

There is physical New Orleans and there is a New Orleans of the mind. It takes a special mindset to live in New Orleans. The culture shock is severe. Some people do not even last a year.

Time moves differently. We eke out a living because there are more important things than dollars. There is New Orleans and we are a part of something bigger that cannot be measured.

You know how when you go to the opera and you think to yourself, “This is all beautiful and all, but, I have no idea what is going on.” This is what is like to live in New Orleans.  Just hang out.