I return home from Whole Foods and a group of at least seven middle-age white Airbnb guests are sitting on the porch next door laughing, drinking beer, a cluster of bikes slumped against the wooden post nearby. Cute, a group bike ride. One bike, however, leans across the stairs to my house (well, my friends' house that I'm house-sitting but still...).
I don't see the bike as I'm parking, but I do see them all staring at me as I park. I wonder if they stare because they think I don't belong in the successfully-gentrified neighborhood of Treme (where I spent every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday afternoon/evening at my father's business before a man-made disaster destroyed it; where my father still owns property that he exhausted his savings and his senior citizen-self repairing after said disaster and now rents, like a decent human being, to New Orleans residents and not tourists) or because they assume I'm going to the house where the RBG and Haitian flags fly to which one of their bikes is blocking access.
I get my groceries out and, with hands full, approach the house. They all continue to watch me.
"Can the owner of this bike please move it?" I ask, more politely than I needed to. I'll judge myself for that later.
No response. Stares.
I repeat the question, more loudly, less politely.
Silence. I imagine myself sitting my grocery bags down and rolling that bitch into the middle of Kerlerec Street. But I'm tired. I'm carrying three grocery bags, an unnaturally heavy purse (didn't I just clean this thing out yesterday?), and an eighth generation Louisianian fetus. I can only muster up enough energy to lift my right, suede booty-covered foot to its rear tire and, lightly tapping my toe to the rubber, kick it over.
With a very gratifying clank, the bike hits the cement. I step over it, climb the steps, look back, and possessed by the spirit of black mothers the world o'er, declare, "It better not be here next time I look out this window."
According to proponents of whole-house rentals, the presence of white people, tourists included, stabilizes historically Black communities.
This is NOLA. Y'all can have it.
New Orleans is an idea I carry in my blood wherever I go.