A rose between two bald thorns. As goes Maine, so goes the nation. The state’s motto is, “Dirigo,” which is Latin for, “I lead.” Nice people come from Maine. It is the Pine Tree State.
People from New England love New Orleans. It happens all the time. I am from New England. Look at me.
I was out and about reading the Wall Street Journal, as is my habit, when these two people from Maine came and sat nearby. They were easy to spot. They weren’t from around here. They were welcome. Nobody cared. A stranger is a friend you haven’t yet met.
The man asked me, “Were you called to New Orleans or was New Orleans called to you? What I mean is did you move to New Orleans because it embodies you or did you come to embody New Orleans after you moved here? You seem like a natural fit.”
What he really said was Louisiana, not New Orleans, so I got to give an impromptu lecture on the difference between the two before I answered his question.
Just as New Orleans is like no place else on earth, it is likewise true that New Orleans is like no place else in Louisiana. No one outside Orleans Parish would ever mistake me for a native Louisianian, or whatever someone from Louisiana is called. They would know I that, if I live in Louisiana, I live in New Orleans. It is super-obvious. The only things I have to do with the State of Louisiana are taxes and my driver’s license. I very rarely leave the city.
Then these people from Maine showed up.
The man’s name was Andrew [all names have been changed to protect anonymity], and I chose my words carefully when I answered him. I said, “It is my nature to put down roots wherever I am and to grow where I am planted. I am enraptured by the human condition. New Orleans is like nowhere else. I’m sure anyplace in Maine is the same way. Love where you live and you will get back more than you give. New England and New Orleans have a lot in common. The difference is that times are always good in New Orleans. There is no down time. If I lived in Vassalborough (which isn’t the greatest name for a town), I would be Mr. Vassalborough.” I was referring to ‘‘terroir.’
As I said to Clarissa [not her real name], as they left my company, “Welcome to my world.” I hope they enjoyed it. They had biscuits with honey butter and jalapeño cheddar macaroni and cheese. New Orleans comfort food kicked up a notch. Welcome to my world.
It always makes me happy when New Englanders come to stay at La Belle Esplanade. It’s nice to meet people who are from where I am from. Connecticut is not Maine, but it is close enough compared to Louisiana. Nothing in Louisiana outside New Orleans makes any sense to me, and even most things in New Orleans don’t make a lot of sense according to my Yankee sensibility. I have gotten used to it. Welcome to my world. New Englanders, especially the ones from Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut are always welcome. New York is not New England, as every New Yorker knows. I am from Fairfield County, Connecticut. Tri-State baby! I love New Yorkers, too. My father’s family is from Franklinville.
Welcome to my world. You belong here. Our part of New Orleans is calling you. You know where you should stay.
After the people from Maine left, a belly dancer showed up at my table.
You never what will happen over the course of a New Orleans day. Every day is full of pleasant surprises.
We were at Frey Smoked Meat Company. Maybe you’ve heard of it. The front dining room has a majestic view of the back of the Office Depot on North Carrolton Avenue. People in the know call it a rack of heaven. People from Maine really dig this place. Dirigo. I like to read the Wall Street Journal there.