I am the type of person who marks rites of passage. When I graduated from college, I got a tattoo of a sapling tree on my wrist. When I turned 30, I drove from Florida, through Texas, Mississippi and back up to Iowa, celebrating my birthday each step of the way. In the backseat were Finn and half of a rainbow decorated sheet cake that a friend in San Antonio had given me. On my return to Iowa, my friend Amelia had planned a final, surprise birthday party for me, complete with piñatas. It made turning 30 feel official.
So it only made sense that, to celebrate the end of my without-child years (or the beginning of my motherhood ones), I would drive down to visit that same Amelia in New Orleans, where she resettled after Iowa. New Orleans is, after all, the chosen destination for many a bachelorette parties. It had to be a good place to plan a Babylorette party.
Which, by the way, is one of many names we considered for this rite of passage. Other options included Singletorette Party, Maidenortette Party and, the most cumbersome of them all, NonMomorette party. Babylorette, though technically inaccurate (a bachelorette party is meant to mark the end of one’s bachelorette days but I am obviously long past the end of my baby days), was the most fun to stay. So we stuck with it.
Amelia was the perfect co-conspirator to help me plan this rite of passage. Because she’s fun, but also because she has a special knack for discovering all things decadent and weird in a place. Our first pit stop in the Babylorette party bus, then, was something known as The Country Club. Or, colloquially, the Gay Country Club. It was a queer- and clothing-optional club in an old plantation style house with towering front pillars and a pool and hot tub out back. We drank mid-day gin and tonics, ate fries and played in the pool alongside naked aging gay men and tattooed ladies until sunset.
Next stop, a climb up the levee to watch the barges and trains pass.
And then, our last stop of Day 1, a trip to a Polish punk rock bar where they serve baskets full of sausages and burgers made of beets. With beer of course.
Wake up the next day and we bike to my psychic appointment, where I am told that I will be moving soon (correct) and that my baby will be a girl (correct) and that she’ll be sweet and sensitive and a little psychic herself (really!?). The psychic also informs me that we’ll be having a second child soon, a boy, and that he’ll be a real hell-raiser. Sigh.
Following that, the Babylorette train (actually us on bicycles) made a pit stop at Mother’s in the business district where they serve the world’s best Roast Beef sandwiches. I ate mine below a photo of George W and Laura smiling with the owner, which only slightly ruined the experience. Theoretically W has no place in a Babylorette party.
We then road our bikes on to the river ferry, which takes you to a place called Algiers Point. Though theoretically a part of New Orleans, it feels like a remote town. The streets there are notably quiet and the people are somehow less shimmery and loud. We drank beers in a bar where the dogs would stand up on two paws to take a treat from the bartender. Then we went back to New Orleans where we ate two dozen oysters in a fancy hotel and made plans to ride the street car all the way to a very large tree that shades hippies smoking pot.
Except Amelia’s bike got caught in the street car rail lines and we had to take a temporary pit stop in our revelry.
Which was fine, because I was coming to realize that being young and crazy is, well, a bit tiring. Fun, yes. But not nearly as easy as it used to be. I was missing Marta and her belly. I found myself daydreaming about the coming months when we begin to get the little one’s things in order, to pack our hospital baby and start practicing our labor pain chants (another blog about this subject soon, I promise).
The rest of the trip was beautiful and wonderful: We went to a bike shop fundraiser in a bar where there was a shadow puppet show and a brass band played. We went to another bar that is on an old carousal and spins slowy around the bartenders in the middle who serve an “authentic” Ramos Gin Fizz, the preferred drink of the famous Huey Long. And then we went to a fancy movie theatre where they serve you truffle oil popcorn and beers.
And then we took these pictures in the lobby.
And these on the street
And then we smoked a cigarette and I suddenly got light-headed and nauseous. We went to a falafel shop, where I threw up in the bathroom, and we walked our bikes home, talking about how our friendship would evolve when I go this direction and Amelia lives another, potentially complimentary, way of life (i.e. kidless but ever so creative in New Orleans). And by the end of it all I felt spent and satisfied and totally ready to become what I am about to become.
Because, really, that’s the point of a rite of passage: to ready you for change. To leave you sleepless and blissful and totally ready to welcome that change in to your world.