Life is hard. But when living in the world’s most magical city, and more specifically, during the most magical time of the year (Mardi Gras, of course), life tends to feel a little easier. For about two months, New Orleans is blessed with Mardi Gras season. The euphoria in it comes from the fact that it’s a season jam-packed with all the things that makes New Orleans itself euphoric: dancing, music, food, festivals, cheap mixed drinks, second lines, brass bands, and traditions.
With hundreds of Carnival-themed events going on throughout the season, I’d say a downside of it all is the pure overwhelming sense it has the power of bringing: the yearn to soak in and experience all the city has to offer paired with the sad realization that you simply can’t be everywhere at once. “FOMO” (Fear of Missing Out) is what they call it. A thought that gets me through my FOMO-influenced anxiety during Mardi Gras is the understanding and acknowledgement that wherever I end up, I will be in the one and only New Orleans, Louisiana, during Mardi Gras season. Whether it be Uptown, Frenchmen, Treme, or the Marigny, I know that wherever I am in the city, I’ll be surrounded by contagious joy: hugs from drunken strangers, smells of endless food trucks, sounds of brass bands filling the air, extravagant and witty costumes and floats, tickled toddlers catching life-sized stuffed animals from ladders and shoulders, and the streets filled with those fully embracing the phrase “Dance like no one is watching.” Every corner you turn, you’re bound to see something to make you smile and fill your heart with warmth.
When something has the ability to make you so happy, you want a lot of it and you want it often; you may even tend to overindulge. I, for one, can admit that Mardi Gras is absolutely the happiest time of my year, and I tend to overindulge for two months straight (hence, the price tag of my current hangover, pitiful checking account balance that I’m too terrified to look at, and sore feet). From the walking parades in the Quarter, to the jaw-dropping 30+ float parades that roll down St. Charles Avenue every parade and leave me with a raspy voice the next morning, to Lundi Gras Festival on Monday, all the way to Fat Tuesday for the marathon that is Mardi Gras Day itself (start time: 6:30 am, end time: whenever your legs give out). On the flip side, when you’ve overindulged in something, it can be hard to cut it out cold turkey.
After the best few weeks of your year, abruptly, you’re forced wake up. You’re tired, drained, hungover, but even more so, you’re sad. You’re in the real world now and it’s Wednesday. Just Wednesday. It’s not the Wednesday of Nyx or the Wednesday night before Muses. No. It’s the Wednesday after Mardi Gras. No weekend parades or activities to look forward to, no light at the end of the work-week tunnel. Just a painful and sad Wednesday that marks the end of Mardi Gras. The Mardi Gras blues is a real thing. Pushing through today is hard, pushing through this week will be hard, pushing through the next 365 days will be hard. I don’t find many things to fully cure it, but, smiling at memories tends to help. Here are some pictures of parades and smiling faces to get you through this sad, Mardi Gras-less time. Until next year!