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Posts Tagged ‘Mardi Gras’

Revisiting my freshman year of college in my mind brought me to a startling scene of a girl jolted into the transition into a woman. I had fun during that first Mardi Gras, the one with Renee and the giggling, despite disappointments over the discovery of my crush’s girlfriend, a girl he had only mentioned during the Lundi Gras festivities in the French quarter while he literally carried me down bourbon street. This one man, possibly from Middle Eastern decent, had grabbed my right breast in a fit of arousal and intoxication. I found myself suddenly surrounded by these men, helpless, and wondering what other awkward part of my body they would try to grasp, until I was hoisted up in the air by familiar arms, my hero and crush.

I had no practical reasons for finding this man attractive. He was a republican, and I am still near green to this day. His father was a successful lawyer, probably a real asshole, who had defended some lousy scum bags. He wore glasses that made him look like a board member of a tech company. His hair was wiry and ash blonde, his skin an uneven tone of pale and plotted with reminders of adolescence. By no means should he have been the object of my 18-year-old –California-Girl affections but he was. And perhaps, for the first time, did I start to feel the pangs of desire that young women feel when they finally start to become a woman.

Or was it just the excessive amount of drive-thru Daiquiri that I was consuming? In any case, nothing happened, just a strong clasp of arms around my waist, carrying me until there was a break in the crowd, where he then set me down next to a pile of Mardi Gras waste, vomit, pee, and beer. Hardly the romantic scene. He told me that he had to carry his girlfriend out of places like that before. I told him that I didn’t know he had a girlfriend to which he replied a simple, “7 years”, like they had 2 kids and a white picket fence.

So why did this memory suddenly come to mind the other day? I’ve wondered that myself, frankly. That was probably one of the first times in my life where I was confronted with what I felt was the brutal and disgusting truth of raw, male desire. My first instinct should have been to run, run far away from the crowds, or maybe even refused to walk down Bourbon Street. My curiosity lead me down to watch the hundreds and thousands of people behave in bizarre ways, wearing outlandish costumes, or in some cases, nothing at all.

This wasn’t the kind of Mardi Gras I had seen in photos when my mother was a girl. My grandparents, just starting to show the signs of aging in their face, my mother’s round, cherub cheeks, and my aunt’s stunning blue eyes all peered out from adorable cat costumes while waiting for the parades to start. They looked so happy in those costumes that day, a memory that I’ve held onto tightly for my grandma, and an honor I hold closely for my late grandfather and aunt.

But there were no adorable cat costumes or cherub-like faces that night, just the faces of the drunken folks who peeled pieces of their clothes off to expose wretched parts of their bodies. It’s not that I’m against nudity, or partying, or even Mardi Gras in general, though in recent years I have expressed my distaste in Fat Tuesday, it’s just that I was 18 and I didn’t know any better.

Now as I approach my mid –twenties, several years later with experiences, stories, and realities under my belt, I suppose that I was the most naïve girl who was ever carried down Bourbon St., or, at the very least, in that moment I was.

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Lying on the hard, cold linoleum floor with my legs propped up on the couch, I started to close my eyes and drift away to the music on the radio. Renee laid haphazardly beside me to my right, sipping on a wine cooler and smiling to herself as if she had the best kept secret in the world. The boys were somewhere else. Can’t remember if they went to buy food or more beer, or attend a parade.

I let my 18 year old fingers slide in and out of my jean belt hooks, tracing the indents of my skin from my hips pressing up against my jeans. I hadn’t slept that night, I don’t think. Lundi Gras had melted into Mardi Gras, and our heads just felt heavy and gras after all the drinking, laughing, and sleeplessness. But we didn’t care. We spent that entire weekend giggling and staying up late, the sort of thing that young girls do in college. Renee would get sudden bursts of energy and suggest pillow fights, or running around on the cold grass.

And as we lay there, her sudden surge suggested that we clean the boys’ house as a surprise. I rolled over, looked around and noticed that the house was indeed messed by empty bottles of drinks, food wrappers, and other miscellaneous evidence of partying. I agreed because I was ashamed of the havoc we had wreaked. As we cleaned, we giggled, and as we giggled, we swatted each other’s arms with rags in a playful, elementary school way. It was like I was a girl again, not the young adult I was becoming, and the young adult I wasn’t ready to be.

So here we were, young girlfriends trying to impress boys we pretended not to like, in color little t-shirts, dancing to songs on the radio. And here I am now, some 6 years later, with merely a shadow of my girlish behavior remaining. That young Meredith would have never fretted about utility bills, gas prices, or even how she wore her hair and if that day ever came, she would be thirty-something and living somewhere fabulous.

When you’re 18, you feel invincible. Your hair is always pretty no matter where or if you slept. Your lights are always turned on. Someone is always driving you to the next place to hang out. You sing loudly to the radio with a girlfriend in your favorite jeans that only fit teenage hips. There is no twenty-something. There is no twenty-something because that’s the end of irresponsible youthfulness and the beginning of your life path as a dependable and perhaps often depressed adult. Or is it?

I failed to mention that Renee was 5 years older than I was at the time of my first Mardi Gras mayhem. She was a twenty-something, and instead of shedding her teenage persona, she had found a balance between the two. Giddy happiness is something that I don’t allow myself to have anymore as I approach my mid-twenties. I’m sure that it doesn’t have to be that way. I’m sure I can stay awake until the sun comes up again instead of keeping my 10:30 p.m. bedtime. I’m sure I can sing to the radio wearing unmentionables and laughing like a silly, young girl. I could probably even get away with drinking a little too much, smiling a little too big, and finding the best secret to keep away from the world, the same one that Renee kept, and still probably keeps to this day.

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