I’m heading down to New Orleans tomorrow. Let the good times roll! Every night this week, I’ve dreamt of magical, fluffy beignets dropping into my mouth, one after the other. Mmmm…
But enough about dreaming and doughnuts; let’s talk about cemeteries instead.
One of the things I’m really looking forward to seeing in The Big Easy is St. Louis Cemetery, since it’s “widely believed” (according to numerous sites via Google, anyway) that voodoo queen Marie Laveau is buried in there somewhere. I’m hoping to gain some local knowledge about voodoo, to replace my loose, Midwestern understanding of it (unless Princess and the Frog counts as appropriate research).
And I just really like visiting cemeteries in general. They’re so peaceful and quiet, and there’s so much history wrapped up in them. They vary so much from place to place, too — in that respect, I’m fascinated by graveyards in the same way other people are fascinated by churches.
I did live near several cemeteries during my two-year stay in New York. I walked between Machpelah, Carmel, and Trinity (all Jewish cemeteries, so I stayed outside the gates) once to get to Highland park (see below). One cemetery even bordered my workplace, prompting me to ponder the fragility of life every morning as I walked to work.
One of my favorite stops in Paris was Père Lachaise, where I paid my respects to Oscar Wilde, Gertrude Stein, and Molière, among others. I felt like heavily paraphrasing Lord of the Rings while I was in there: “These graves are old…very old. Full of memory.” (Not anger, though. Thank goodness.)
And then there’s Arlington Cemetery in Washington, D.C. The moment you stroll through those gates, you’re filled with a deep sense of stillness. And respect.
I also can’t forget my stop in Sleepy Hollow; a town that practically revolves around Ichabod Crane and the Old Dutch churchyard. That cemetery, more than any other, reminded me that I was walking where others had walked centuries ago.
And even when I arrived in Portland, Maine, I discovered that my Airbnb host was actually an author who had written a book about Maine’s cemeteries! What a world.
So get ready, St. Louis Cemetery — I’m comin’ for you!
…After I’m done eating my first beignet.
Thanks for reading,
Bonus note: I recently finished The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman and loved it. I highly recommend it to any fellow fantasy-lovers and/or cemetery-appreciaters out there. (And I’m not getting paid to say this — I’m just an English major that’s understandably obsessed with books!)