I Ride a Streetcar and Discover I Have a Bucket List

No. The streetcar is not on my bucket list. I know, because my stomach didn’t get giddy with butterflies and I didn’t break out into a huge smile and tears didn’t well up in my eyes when I saw the streetcar.

Streetcar No. 1

Streetcar No. 1 If a streetcar makes you all giddy, then go for it! New Orleans has some nice ones.

Friend: What are your plans today?

Me: The cemetery!!!!

I love cemeteries, especially old cemeteries. Wherever I go, I visit a cemetery because I love the sense of place, of history, of life and of death, of ritual, and of meaning. I’ve learned a lot about the evolution of the belief towards the afterlife just by wandering through cemeteries and noting death dates. The older the date, the more horrifying the afterlife depicted in the iconography. At least, that’s how it is in the States. Skull and crossbones, skeletons, skulls with wings; it’s all very fascinating compared to the more contemporary imagery of laser-cut portraits of the deceased or of deer and nature or whatever the deceased’s interest was.

Friend: Ok, you’ll want to take the streetcar. Get on at Gravier and not Canal Street. Locals know to get on before Canal Street.

I nod my head.

Friend: To get to Gravier, go out and turn right, then cross over to…..

Ok, I admit it, I’m directionally challenged. If I can’t picture it, I can’t follow it. And since I don’t know the streets of New Orleans, I couldn’t picture it, and so I stopped following it.

Friend: Did you get that?

I nod my head.

Friend: Ask the conductor to let you off at the cemetery stop.

I nod my head.

Then I set out and wander around the CBD where I was staying (Central Business District—CBD for short). I hope to run into Gravier.

I cross a small street where I stumble on the uneven pavement. When I look down, I notice streetcar rails. I look up at a street sign. Gravier!

Me: I’d like to get off at the cemetery stop.

Conductor: I’ll announce it.

Streetcar No. 2

Streetcar No. 2

A little later

Conductor: Washington Street.

I sit there.

Conductor: Washington Street!

I sit there.


I look up and see him looking at me in his mirror. He nods. Oh!

Me: Thank you.

He waves in a vague direction and says, “Just down the street. Please walk in front of the streetcar when you cross.” No, he didn’t run me down. He was very polite.

There are many cemeteries in New Orleans. For my first cemetery, I chose Lafayette No. 1 in the Garden District. As I walk in the general direction of where the conductor waved, I notice remnants of Mardi Gras in the trees.

Beads 01

Beads No. 01

Beads 02

Beads No. 02

I notice tree roots that refuse to be contained.

Tree Roots No. 1

Tree Roots No. 1

Then, from a distance, I notice rooftops, and my stomach gets all giddy with butterflies and I break out into a huge smile and tears well up in my eyes, and for the first time in a long time, a dream comes true. My first New Orleans cemetery!

Cemetery 01

Cemetery 01

I have a bucket list but it wasn’t until this moment that I realized I had one. It feels good to visit a dream.


About Dezra Despain

Life is full of stories waiting to be revealed.

Posted on May 1, 2012, in A New Orleans Experience and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.

  1. Love seeing beads in the trees! Mardi Gras in Mobile, AL! Home of the original Mardi Gras! 🙂

    • One of these years I’ll actually get down south for Mardi Gras. It sounds like a riot! And I didn’t know Mobile was the home of the original Mardi Gras. Cool!

  2. Your narrative is as interesting and evocative as your photos. I do love a good photojournal, and this already qualifies. Eager for more!

  3. Happy you had one of your dreams fulfilled!

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