Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Notes from the Neutral Ground

I watched a child fall from a ladder on Sunday night. While standing on the porch of a friend of a friend of a friend (a neurosurgeon whose bookshelves, to my unending glee, contained two rather large--but not as large as you might hope--tomes entitled 'Brain Surgery: Volume 1' and 'Brain Surgery: Volume 2') waiting for Bacchus to roll, I heard a sound, amid the ruckus, like a branch snapping. The child lay on the ground, terrifyingly still, and as the parental figures on the ground gathered around her, I predictably thought of my own child, tucked safely away at Cade's parents' house in Ama. The young girl's mother carried her away from the scene of the accident, and I had a moment of quiet hysteria. What if the child had been seriously hurt (as she clearly had not been, given the histrionic quality of her subsequent tears)? What if we'd had to summon one of the neurosurgeons to come to her aid? What if I'd been forced to break out 'Brain Surgery: Volume 2'? What if that had been Sydney on that ladder? What if...What if...Oh my god what if?

But then I had another beer, and put the what ifs away for the evening. The child was fine, but for the occasional hiccup of leftover misery.

Mardi Gras seemed fraught with peril this year. I was nearly brained by a bag of ice at the Endymion Extravaganza; the woman at the table next to us had her nose bloodied. I witnessed injury after bead-related injury. The riders seemed unusually aggressive, at times almost hostile. That little girl's ladder--identical to all the other ladders lining the parade route, simultaneously annoying and precious--failed her. And I spent the better part of my weekend missing my baby, whose paternal grandparents whisked her away for a weekend in the country, surrounded by chickens and cats and horses and a whole other set of people who believe that she's the most amazing little person to ever wave bye-bye.

We got her back on Lundi Gras. The next morning, the three of us headed out to the parades, where we spent the day taking in the costumes and the music and the brilliant colors and smells and sounds of a city in full-on catharsis. Sydney had a blast, and I was content to sit back and watch our beautiful child take in this beautiful city--from the sidewalk, of course. The ladder Cade built will have to wait.

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