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Chapter 9 - Creole Heart

The contrast so many New Orleans homes flaunt strikes me the instant I clear the gate in that the exterior and interior of this house are diametrically opposed, the outside teetering on the brink of neglect, the inside reflecting a sense of self-expression edging toward excess. The present articulation comprises a masterful mélange of green, gold, and purple in tones that alchemize the abject tackiness that combination almost invariably exudes into a vibrantly insouciant backdrop for life. As I wait for Catfish to relock the gate I peer back into what appears to be an enormous compound, down a brick carriageway overhung with gas lamps, its distant end broadening into a glowing rectangle of courtyard shaded by a procession of red-blossomed crape myrtles brushing the side of another house behind the one whose threshold I thought we’d just crossed. Rather than entering that front house, however, we’re still outside, or at least semi-outside, in one of those uniquely in-between spaces peculiar to New Orleans, where the closing of a shutter or the unfurling of a blind can take one in a heartbeat from outside to in, such that the two spaces remain at all times inextricably mingled, the people occupying them lolling quite happily somewhere in the middle.

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