Last night was a micro-encapsulation of everything you love about this town.
You start at 7:20pm, being roused from your late-afternoon nap by your husband telling you it's time to get dressed for an 8:00 dinner with a couple of friends. You're trying a new place tonight on a recommendation, and you realize again that you can have approximately 2,749 delicious, original meals in New Orleans and still not have scratched the surface of your dining bucket list.
You drive to Mid-City, a place you've heard about, but don't visit that often — for no good reason at all. It's charming.
The dinner is inventive, successful, and surprisingly cheap. You talk with your friends about how you can eat at, say, Commander's Palace or another fine dining establishment and have a meal you will talk about for weeks for the same price you could have a mediocre pizza in Manhattan.
You talk with your friends about your mutual friend out west who was in a movie recently, and make a date to watch that movie together.
Getting in your cars to drive home, you turn on WWOZ, the best radio station in the world, and are not too surprised to hear your friends in the studio doing a live set. You call your friends in their cars because your radio friends are also known by them, and alert them to the fact.
You text your friends at WWOZ and invite them out for after-radio drinks and congratulate them on a great show. One of them texts back that they'll be flyering on Lower Decatur.
You put the husband to bed for a 4am wake-up call for the airport tomorrow, grab your pet python, and walk through a crisp, early-October French Quarter to Decatur Street.
At one of your favorite bars, another friend is standing on the street. "I saw that coat two blocks away and thought it was something you'd wear," says your friend. You join him and a group of others in a courtyard bar.
There are people you know well, people you know peripherally, and new people to meet.
Your friend is a snake expert and tells you that just because your python has those little hooks next to his butt, he's not necessarily male. Every night is gender-bending in New Orleans.
You text another friend with a snake with gender issues and inform him of the news.
WWOZ friends call and say they're on their way home, sorry they missed you, but you're glad you came out nonetheless.
Your snake friend renews his standing invitation for Movie Nights at his place on Mondays. "What did you watch last night?" you ask. It turns out they watched the movie that your west coast friend is in, and it's good. You show a picture of him on your phone to your friend. Everyone laughs at the serendipity. You text your friend out west and tell him of the small-world'itude of the situation. He "LOL's" back.
You wander towards home, but get stopped by a girl from Oakland on the street who wants to hold your snake for a minute and take pictures. Other friends walk by and a small, social street scene ensues for ten minutes.
You wish the girl happy trails back home, then decide you'll pop by a nightclub to say hi to others, and hopefully catch the after-party of a show you meant to go to, but forgot what day it was.
They're closing up the nightclub, flipping chairs onto tables, but you have a drink with them anyway.
You leave once again with the intention of going home, but get sidetracked by your old haunt where your good friend works the graveyard. You pop in, but she's out sick. You have a drink anyway and make friends with the bartender and some people who work hard for the money on Bourbon Street. It's an awful street to hang out on, but many of your friends work there for the $$$.
You decide that your one-beer nightcap (the third of the night) should extend until 4am when you can finally go home and meet the husband as he's waking for the airport.
You kiss him farewell at the start of his day and put your head down for the end of your day.
You wake up with a minor hangover, but a well-earned one, and many happy, cozy memories of last night's excursions swirling through your head.
And a profound sense of contentment, peace, and belonging.