One of my very, very favorite things about New Orleans–and surely many places are like this–is how many ways there are to sit outside and watch stuff. Last summer I lived in a house with a long porch, and almost every night N. and S. would come over and we’d drink beer and I’d eat M&Ms and N. would smoke and S. would be his usual surly self. We’d say hi to all the folks who’d pass by, even though some people, like that girl who apparently did laps around my block, never said hi back. Most people will stop and chat, though. This is a friendly place. I now live behind someone else’s house, so my private/public space isn’t on the street. I love the quiet, but I miss the people and the views. Fortunately, lots of other people have porches and balconies and places to sit and watch. Tonight I rode Jack over to a bar to see a friend’s photography exhibit and then to another bar to play pool with friends. But the whole time I was looking forward to the last stop, at S. and J.’s balcony at their place in the Treme, where I popped my feet up and rehashed the past several days. I have already logged an impressive number of hours sitting out there, talking, drinking, watching, not smoking, trying to talk sense in to the dog, and just relaxing. Tonight was more of the same, but the kind of same I could do over and over again without ever tiring. When the night was over, I clipped in and turned up Bruce on my headphones and rode as fast as I could through the empty and cool, for tonight, anyways, streets of the Quarter back Uptown. Yeah, this is summertime in New Orleans. And like all things, it’s better with friends you know are your people, drinks you know will get you just tipsy enough, dogs you know are snapping and pawing because they love you, and, of course, your bike. I get to end every night on my bike, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.