This past Tuesday was Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday). Sometimes I think it’s funny that Mardi Gras is actually just a one-day thing. Growing up, Mardi Gras was a season. It pretty much went from the beginning of January through the actual day of Mardi Gras (February/March depending on the year). The first week of January, we would take down our Christmas tree and take away the gingerbread cookies and replace it with King Cake and decorations of purple, green and gold. The next two months were full of going to Mardi Gras balls, parades, lugging around bags full of plastic beads and eating lots of fattening cake with plastic babies inside. The weeks leading up to it didn’t only mean all of these celebrations, but it meant not having school for a week (usually much needed by this point in the semester).
Well, I had school on Tuesday. I didn’t have any plastic beads nor did I go to any parades. I didn’t gain an entirely new collection of plastic cups for my house or hear Mardi Gras Mambo even once. It was weird. For the first time in my life, the day before Ash Wednesday was just another Tuesday. I made a huge pot of jambalaya and a king cake from scratch to try to hold on to my typical traditions, but when I walked outside, there weren’t barricades lining the streets – just snow (lots and lots of snow). I had to fight the urge to cringe (or scream) when I overheard a guy in my class say something about “New Or-LEENS” day.
Last year, even though I lived in Michigan, I was lucky enough to have my spring break coincide with Mardi Gras, so I went back home and it was like I had never left. This was my first time that my Mardi Gras Tuesday consisted of class…and work…and every other thing I do every other day of my life.
I didn’t think it would be that weird to be away from Louisiana on Mardi Gras, but it was. I felt like no one understood what day it was. It was almost like someone forgot about my birthday (or didn’t care enough to celebrate). I got overly excited about my king cake that I made and watched over my housemates’ shoulders as I waited for someone to find the baby.
(I mean look at that. Come on)
I don’t know if I’ll ever get over the fact that I live in a world that is completely different than the world I grew up in. As I was walking home from work that night, I thought, “Sydney, you do miss home, but think about how much you love this home.” Moving away doesn’t mean that you are always going to be alone in your traditions. (Shout out to Ben, my fellow Southerner, for bringing over his New Orleans bakery king cake for some good LSU conversation) It means that you gain new ones and teach other people new things along the way.