We did have a great time on our trip to New Orleans to see the Vagina Monologues. We traveled to New Orleans with four other fabulous women. It was a good group to travel with and their company was one of the things that made the trip so very special.
We got to New Orleans and could not check in our hotel so we headed to the Superdome to see what was going on. It was a little unsettling going into the Superdome after seeing on TV and hearing of the suffering of many of the people of New Orleans at this site. Once we were inside, we made our way to the main floor. As we walked in I looked back and screamed, "I've been born again." We had just walked through a huge glowing pink vagina. At least I knew I was in the right place!! Facing us was a huge area where speakers made their presentation, seating for the audience and around the perimeter were educational displays, art, the Red Tent project and an altar for those who lost lives in the aftermath of Katrina.
We went out to some of the other areas. The one I enjoyed the most was the Activists Lounge. Many groups from around the world were there to inform people of the projects they were involved in that promoted issues for women. I found myself scurrying from table to table talking with the people and getting information. I had worked with a a Women's Health project in my former life and this was a good connection for me. (I've got to make time to go through all my information and make a plan to become in some kind of activism.)
We finally had to leave to check into our motel. After check in and little time refreshing we headed to the French Quarter. The women we were with were a very cooperative group. We located a place to park and headed to the FQ. We just walked around for a while and began to hunt a restaurant. There were all sorts of sights and things to stop and gawk at. We finally selected a restaurant. The restaurant was not that great. They had only one waitress and the food could have been better but, hey, we are in New Orleans. I can't really remember all we did and saw that night (and NO I was not drunk..............in fact I did not have one drink while we were there...........I don't think I had time.) We made it back to the motel sometime around midnight.
Sarah had offered to drive since none of the other women had a lot of experience driving in a large city. She did a good job in spite of all the assistance she got. The ladies (one of them me) in the middle seats got her really lost one time.
The next morning we got up made our way back to the Superdome. Where we saw a group of women in shiny pink uniforms and white boots come strutting down the hallway. One our women asked if we could get pictures with them. I had my picture made with the Pussyfooters of New Orleans. THANKS LADIES for one of my most favorite photographs!!
Then we headed back to the French Market and found a really great place to eat, Cafe Maspero. We all stuffed ourselves with some really good New Orleans cuisine. We ambled around the French Quarter finding different things we were all interested in. Sarah and I had our palms read. It gave us some things to think about. One of the the things the palm reader told me was that I needed to travel. I agree!!
Later in the afternoon we decided that it was time to go back to the motel to freshen up before the performance of the Vagina Monologues. The traffic was HORRENDOUS!! I became apparent to me that we did not have time to go back to the motel so on my suggestion we headed to the arena where the VM was to be held. Just after we got parked Sarah whispered to me that I had not taken the time change into account when I looked at the clock and told the group that we didn't have time to go back to the motel. Oh well, they took it pretty good. And............maybe it was supposed to happen like that.
We had walked around for a while and some of us had found a place to sit on the steps. We were just sitting and chilling when a car drove up (NO, it wasn't Oprah......even better) an older African American woman got out and walked right up to where we were. She stopped and began to tell us she was having problems with her feet and the situation with her medical care. I can't remember who asked her but she began to tell us her story of when the levees failed after Katrina. She was a lady who obviously had a lot of inner strength. She is not happy with the way everyone failed her city. Also, she continues to mourn for her neighborhood and sense of family and familiarity that she has lost. I'm really sorry I did not get her name before we went into the arena for the performance of the VM but please say a prayer for her anyway. I know God will get it to her.
The VM were great. It was like a huge, raucous girl party. The last monologue was to be done by Oprah Winfrey but she was unable to be there because of illness. However, Liz Mikel did that performance and she was masterful!! I didn't even care that Oprah didn't make it. That was how good Liz was!! Her Monologue was about a lady from New Orleans named Ms. Pat. After Liz's performance, the real Ms. Pat was introduced to the audience. GREAT EXPERIENCE!!
The next morning it was time to start back home. The women traveling in our van had kind of bonded and there was some sharing of hearts on our journey home. I was truly honored to have made this trip with such a wonderful group of women.
After getting back home and even before we left, we found that there were people who could say Vagina Monologues and those that had trouble speaking the word, vagina. I wonder if empowering women to speak of their vaginas and of their experience of their womanhood will help them to take their rightful place in society and less likely to be a victim. What might it do to teach men to speak of vaginas and hear the stories of women. Might it, too, have positive effects for them. Hmmmmmmmmmmm. Could we possibly have a better, healthier society if we learn to speak of vaginas, speaking our truth and telling our stories. I've been told that naming a thing is a powerful act. It sure felt powerful in New Orleans. I hope we brought some of it home.