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Archive for October 22nd, 2006

I’m down in South Louisiana for the weekend, spending time visiting with family. Tonight, we went out to eat at Mulate’s– for anyone who hasn’t had the privilege, it’s an old traditional Cajun restraunt with live bands and dancing. Sometimes it’s Cajun, othertimes it’s Zydeco, always it’s good. There’s something timeless about the culture here– perhaps it strikes me here more than other places because this is the culture closest to my heart for all that I don’t have Cajun blood, but perhaps this place really is as unique as it seems. I first ate at Mulate’s when I was 5… even for the youngest of children, it’s a memorable experience: the joie de vivre, the warm wooden floors and old cypress columns, the business cards tacked to the roof where no matter how many cards you tack up you  never can find yours again, the accordian and fiddle and the bronzed shoes of the regulars who danced there year after year. And always, always the dancing. On Fridays and Saturdays, it’s mostly families and couples: Grandmama and papa dancing to the music that has been the soundtrack of their lives. Young couples laughing and dancing. Perhaps my favorite is the new Grandpapa’s dancing with the little babies. They will dance with them until they’re old enough to want to dance on their own, then stake out a corner of the floor with their friends and cousins to twirl and play in a way that slowly comes to resemble the classic dances. There is a warmth to it, a touch of the large extended family and connection that is far too often absent in our world. But most striking of all is the timelessness of it. Nice old cajun ladies let me play their spoons and triangles long before any of us knew who bin Laden was or cared about taking liquids on airplanes or what North Korea might or might not be up to. When I was in high school, they taught me how to danser (or at least tried to). And I left and moved to Arkansas and lived in Greece and the twin towers came crashing down and life in America changed forever. But in Breaux Bridge, little old men waltzed with their grandbebes to Jolie Blonde. And I went on, and started grad school, and began studying psychology and trauma and part of human nature that show a resiliency beyond what any of us would suspect in response to aspects of human nature that I occasionally wish I was still ignorant of.  So I became more hopeful, and more cynical– an oxymoron perhaps, but that’s reality. And tonight I went back to Breaux Bridge. The warmth of the people and the food remain unchanged. The dancing remains unchanged. And as I waltzed with my young cousin in my arms, I realized that there was likely some woman doing exactly the same thing on a Friday night in 1806 and 1906. There is a greatness in that, and a comfort. And perhaps in other places it happens the same, just in different ways… but for me, I can go get some duck and andouille and nearly step back in time or at least into a time where time and the craziness of the world simply ceases to matter, in a place where grandparents and great-grandparents get up from the table where all their family is eating dinner together to dance: together, then with the grandchildren and sometimes even with the children. It is a blessing to have such a place. 

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