Dear the Streetcar Named Desire,
Before I moved down to New Orleans, I did my best to read up on some classic Southern literature: some Truman Capote, some Maya Angelou, and my beloved Tennessee Williams. Even though the streetcar had almost nothing to do with the plot of the short play, I had nothing but admiration for this archaic transportation system. While every other city has busses or subways to get their public moving, NOLA again proves it embodies lightheartedness with its unreliable and slow streetcars.
I grew up near San Francisco, and whenever I asked to ride a cable car, I got scoffed by my parents saying “oh, that’s what tourists do.” Here, no one cares whether you’re a tourist or Creole. Much like the public transportation of any major city, you will find a wide array of characters, my personal favorites being the struggling musician, the drunk couple straight off of Bourbon St, and the one guy who refuses to sit down for no reason. The culture here embraces people of all walks of life so long as you can have some decent small talk, and laissez les bon temps rouler.
That magical night after witnessing all the beautiful vulgarity that is Krewe Du Vieux, I hopped on three cars trying to head to Uptown, and ended up making friends with some tourists from my hometown of Seattle. We shared stories of our favorite districts, best places to eat in New Orleans, and most outrageous floats. You don’t get those interactions riding the subway in NYC or taking the L in Chicago, at least not as genuinely or friendly.
So dear streetcar, I want to thank you for getting me to and from the parade and hullabaloo, and thank you for reminding me what I love about New Orleans. Here, it doesn’t matter as much when you get to your destination, or even how inconvenient it may be, you can still find happiness in the journey. If you’re okay with taking the scenic route, and getting lost a few dozen times, then you have a transport system more than half the cost of an Uber. Yes, its annoying at times, there’s no A/C, and it can get crowded as all hell during the busy season, but it’s a sweet lazy way to explore. To me, there is nothing more respectful to the culture here than just letting your hair down and seeing where the day takes you, go grab a cafe au lait, go get a poboy, give the boy drumming on Frenchman St. a dollar, remember to smell the roses. During midterms and general college stress, we all get so worked up about our busy day to day lives, the streetcar reminded me of the practice of patience and adaptability.
So take a break! Take the car, see where the day goes. You might gain more than you expected.
COVER PHOTO: Justin Haber