I ran my hands along the wrought iron gates of Jackson Square, which have been worn away and repainted many times over. Café Du Monde still serves the beignets and French coffee that taste the way my memory serves them when I think about the 22 year old girl I was when I moved to New Orleans after college. I had not returned in 30 years until last weekend when my husband and I went for the Jazz and Heritage Festival, which, incidentally, is more fun than I can describe. If I think about the many layers of emotion that flooded through me, its overwhelming. There are the Katrina stories I heard, the vibrant funky music from the Gospel tent to the main stages, the incomparably good food, and all the quirky peculiarities of culture such as Mardi Gras Indians, Zydeco, and how alcoholism is not viewed as a disease but rather a sort of religion. It’s such a contradiction. New Orleans is fragile, damaged, corrupt, even violent, and at the same time its resilience is impossibly strong, and the lack of pretention is a form of purity. Despite the many who died or may yet die due to inept leadership, pollution or crime, those who live there are so fully alive. It is contagious. I think I’ll go back more often. I also see how my early experiences in New Orleans still live in me, and flow out into my ceramic work expressed in color, texture, funky shapes made with joy and sometimes after working through great frustration. The old lace. The fluid geometry. The details.