In one of the most sensuous cities on earth, at one of the most delicate times of day, I watched him. The streetlamps were still glowing, reflecting off of the moist, foggy brick and wrought iron. The only movement on the narrow streets was a garbage truck grumbling around the corner and a handful of old bicycles, pedaled and driven by beatnik poets, some of them wearing long aprons, hurrying towards their early morning shifts at New Orleans breakfast cafes.
No tourists were out this early, and the street performers still slept soundly in whatever safe dark caves they could find.
We had agreed to meet at Jackson Square, between the St. Louis cathedral and the entry to Place d'Armes, before breakfast. Before the fortune tellers had time to set up their card tables and hand painted signs, promising answers. We didn't need their predictions,. after all; we only wanted one final quiet morning together.
The preceding three nights had been filled with romance and surprises, and today we would part ways. I slept in my hotel bed at The Frenchman for only a couple of hours, rose before dawn to take a hot shower in the minuscule but ornate bathroom there, and dressed in my last remaining clean sweater and a skirt with warm tights and boots. It was too early even for the hotel's parlor breakfast of coffee, croissants, and bacon, so I wrapped up in a long, soft scarf and made my way through those magical streets.
I walked alone to our agreed upon spot, taking mental snapshots of every tantalizing storefront, every window box garden, and every white-on-black printed street sign. If this incredible place could somehow be home, would the awe gradually diminish? Would I slowly lose focus on the sparkle, the hum, the glow of the French Quarter?
He was already there waiting for me. He was, as usual, standing tall and straight, broad shoulders square against the gray morning light, hands in his pockets. He was leaning just slightly back, tilted to view the impressive church that has loomed over the square for nearly three centuries. He has such an appreciation for grand architecture, so much knowledge, so much wordless passion.
I stop my boots from clacking and just stand still to watch him for a moment. Gazing at him like this through the fog, I can almost smell his cologne.