Hello. It is I, the Grinch of Mardi Gras weekend. I sorely, genuinely, wanted to enjoy this holiday, but for the second year in a row I failed. It’s not any of your faults, but also it kind of is. Here’s a breakdown of my past five days:
Friday afternoon was beautiful. My last class of the day cancelled, I left Boggs at around 2 p.m., and strolled down McAlister with nothing to do and nowhere to be. For the first time in months, I had five days ahead of me that were genuinely all mine. I thought about the parades, and how maybe I could spend some time with my friends, who are always so stressed out and busy.
And then, because I don’t think rationally, because I have a sensitive, anxious body that is prone to feeling doomed, and honestly also because I’ve been through Mardi Gras before and I know what this weekend is like, another thought darted into my mind before I could stop it: this would be a great weekend to die.
Clearly I didn’t die this weekend. Thoughts like that have been coming up long enough that they don’t shock me and they barely mean anything. I’m well trained and equipped to handle myself when I start ruminating: cognitive disputation, neurological activation, meditation, taking a nap (which is what meditation usually ends up becoming), calling home, etc.
In fact, after the sudden snap in mood and having taken stock of how I was feeling, I decided it was in my better interest to eat a big dinner, skateboard around a little to tire myself out, take a shower and go to bed early, all in lieu of going to parades.
I did this because I am an introvert — not a bullshit “I’m super socially awkward and like reading nooks” introvert — I mean I am genuinely psychologically predisposed to become quickly exhausted by events with high levels of sensory input (like for example, I don’t know, parades), and I take care of myself by being alone in quiet spaces.
Someone did die. A senior. Also a truck drove into the crowd at Endymion, and someone was sexually assaulted on a front lawn on Broadway. Whenever tragedies happen, it’s weird to me how quickly people are able to continue on like nothing’s happened. I noticed it in fall when a girl in my dorm killed herself, and I noticed again last month when a 25 year-old who worked at Bruff was shot. Tulanians, maybe college students in general, are particularly good at keeping their heads down.
I did go to parades, but people kept turning around to ask me if “everything [was] okay.” When introverts get worn down enough, we often start losing the capacity to even feign looking happy. I left alone at around 3 p.m. to do what I actually wanted to be doing: watch Netflix in the dark with my pants off.
Going to bed was hard because everyone around me was playing loud music, yelling at each other, doing coke and breaking things. I stayed in bed with the lights off for hours, thinking about what I might be missing out on because of who I am. Not just this weekend, but every weekend. Nobody had texted me inviting me out, although if they had, I probably would’ve declined.
It’s hard going to parades with a lot of my friends because they’re girls, and girls can get free rides downtown with frats, who make their pledges shuttle people to parades in U-Hauls all day. And, as is so often the case, guys who aren’t in frats can’t come along.
Looking at social media became unbearable, as everyone I know rushed to their phones to perform how not-alone they were. My entire Instagram feed filled with people posting three, four, five different pictures of them and their friends outside in bright costumes, beaming at the camera like they couldn’t be happier or more at home.
Snapchat stories of float after float after float rolling by. Videos of people standing outside the Boot, midway through conversations I wasn’t included in.
This is the default mode of socializing for people my age and I’m used to it. I’m not even saying it’s a bad thing. But Mardi Gras has a way of compounding and multiplying everyone’s online joy to the point where you feel like you’re the only person in the world who isn’t happy. I tried not looking at my phone, but I kept getting bored.
Went to a smaller parade in the Marigny, which was more manageable, although I still only lasted half the day. Walked five miles back to campus and started watching The People vs O.J. Simpson, which was unfortunate because it meant that I had to then finish watching The People vs O.J. Simpson that night.
Monday is a huge night here. People try to party all the way until sunrise on Tuesday, and many succeed. More music, more yelling, more coke. Lots of coke-fueled yelling. The fact that nobody at all had texted me was beginning to sting. I kept reminding myself that one of the lesser-known effects of alcohol is that it makes people bad at paying consideration to things that aren’t directly in their field of vision.
Actually a surprisingly abrupt denouement to festivities. The best of parades are over by one or two. People need to sober up and do homework. Almost everywhere to eat is closed, so I foraged for lunch. Thought about how much of a lonely, emotional catastrophe this weekend became for me, despite my best efforts, and then journaled about it.
I was excited about Mardi Gras last year. I wanted to be included. I wanted to love it. It’s a crazy, unique cultural landmark of one of America’s most interesting cities.
But this time around I was afforded the perspective to see it more as what it actually is: a large gathering of extroverted and/or drunk people trying to catch beads and other pieces of garbage from other people in large moving wooden boxes. AKA: an introvert’s nightmare.
So I’ll speak on behalf of everybody like me in New Orleans, as few or many of us as there may be, and say respectfully, fuck this weekend.
And the next time you’re doing coke in a dorm room at 1 a.m., please don’t yell “I AM AMAZING” as loud as you can. Believe it or not, even during carnival, some of us are still trying to sleep.