I’m back from my trip to Oregon for Auntie L.’s memorial. It was a really good trip, but it is good to be home and back on my bike. Riding up St. Charles to work today I saw this stoplight, broken down and lying uselessly on the neutral ground. Now, St. Charles is a fancy street. The houses are big, the porches are bigger, and the lawns play host to ritzy parties for people with hair like that woman I saw this morning: swept back and around like frosting. And yet St. Charles is, like the rest of this city, full of contradictions. Some mansions appear to be mansions, but a closer look reveals their decay and hints at abandonment. This incongruous stoplight reminded me that what one sees on the surface isn’t necessarily the whole truth. For my seminar today we read several slave narratives and talked about the short historical memory that allows us to forget that we are all products of the legacy of slavery. And the houses on St. Charles are of course products of this history. What looks pretty is also very, very ugly. Many layers, this New Orleans. I’m glad to be back.