The reverberation of snare drums and brass instruments throughout the littered streets begins to fade. A path is forged amongst the go-cups, makeshift coolers, discarded throws, plastic bags, and food remnants.
Mardi Gras attendees, fatigued from yet another year of prolonged celebrations, recall both their individual and shared experiences as they make their way home. Feet dragging, shoulders heavily weighed from the mélange of beads draped from their necks, arms resting lazily at their sides, the physical embodiment of a successful Mardi Gras coming to an end. The countdown for next year's debaucherous festivities has already begun.
Mardi Gras preparation is not for the timid or the weak. Folks begin making arrangements a year in advance, as soon as the physical and moral hangover has subsided. Costume design and decorating parties are held. King cake sharing and tastings are frequent. Float creation and krewe gatherings take place. One does not simply show up to a party of this magnitude and expect maximal return on fun. Carnival requires strategic parade route planning, a handful of trips to Michael's and various thrift stores, dreaded yet necessary group texts, a well-prepared liver, and perhaps the naming rights to your unborn child.
Not to be lost in the madness is the importance of a proper recovery period. Whether you attempted to play it safe or your last message to out-of-town loved ones was "I'll see you on the other side," Mardi Gras is notoriously known for taking a toll on all those who attend and participate. Rehabilitation is not only a must, it's an essential component if you wish to return. Here are some recommended recovery methods to ensure you do just that.
Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle
New Orleans has just given you so much, so it is only appropriate you give back to her in return. While the myriad of multi-colored beads hanging from centuries old oak trees, residential mailboxes, and fences lining the parade routes are an extraordinary sight to see, the reality behind it is a bit grim. Mardi Gras cleanup tends to leave a lot of non-biodegradable stragglers behind for an extended period of time. Companies including Arc of Greater New Orleans, a 67-year-old nonprofit dedicated to the advancement of individuals with disabilities, provides receptacles throughout the city for your unwanted beads, along with coordination of delivery and pickup for recycle bins for select organizations. The Department of Sanitation also offers a location for their Recycling Drop Off Center.
Feeling creative? Repurpose your leftover items into one-of-a-kind household decorations and Carnival costumes for next year. Coasters, bedazzled jackets, beaded chandeliers—the list is endless. Ultimately, be somewhat of an adult and pick up after yourself.
Catch Some Z's
You know, that thing you haven't done at minimum in the last week or so? According to important things like science and reality, sleep is a necessity for your body and mind to recharge. Not the drunken sleep where you can't particularly pinpoint when you eventually passed out, face enveloped in glitter, only to wake up disoriented and sweating with your sheets on the floor. The sober kind, with: a sleep mask, lavender spray, white noise, a body pillow, and with the AC on full blast. Any and all means necessary are on the table. Melatonin? Get crazy and make it two. Fan on despite the weather? Always. Sheets and bedding? Freshly washed. Take a few days to yourself, continue to shirk all responsibilities (if possible), use that deserved PTO, and skip the alarm. You will thank yourself later.
Eat Something Healthy
No, nuking your leftover Popeye's chicken and inhaling it with a side of coleslaw doesn't count. Besides, that's been the entirety of your food pyramid for as long as you can remember at this point. Greens are okay. Ramen cures (almost) everything. Yakamein, its properties widely known for ailing the severest of hangovers, will assuredly raise you from the dead. Perhaps help yourself to a glass of water or 10. For every Moon Pie you've discovered on the ground and digested, that's one salad you must consume. It's simple Mardi Gras mathematics. Your refrigerator, undoubtedly stockpiled with half-emptied seltzers, assorted beers, and mangled Styrofoam containers, storing who knows what, resembles that of a fraternity house. You're long overdue for a grocery overhaul. Restock, eat some fruits and vegetables, and replenish.
Text Your Mom
Your phone has been operating in two modes: about to die and/or "I have no service." Sure some folks may have your location, but it's most likely not your parents or legal guardian. Ironically enough, the ones cognizant of your whereabouts have been alongside you throughout. Re-sharing a Bigfoot-esque blurry image that your friend took of you via your Instagram story for the first time in seven days doesn't count as updating your family on whether or not they should be including your photograph and information on the back of a milk carton.
Do the right thing and text your mom. Hell, if you're feeling extra froggy, give her a phone call. A FaceTime will assure her that you're not being held hostage in someone's basement getting waterboarded while your captors decide on an acceptable asking rate for ransom. Everyone who has ever properly attended a Mardi Gras is guilty of pulling a Houdini, only to resurface later. It's the comeback that counts. Pick up your phone, cracked screen notwithstanding, and give your mom a quick text/call/video chat.