Written by Megan Boyle
Growing up outside of Chicago, the idea of Mardi Gras was something I never really thought about. After all, February in Chicago is WAY too flipping cold for parades! A classmate in elementary school once visited New Orleans during the season and brought back some beads. New Orleans was a far-off city “way down yonder” that I did not think I would ever visit, much less live in.
Long story short, my father was ultimately transferred to Mobile when I was in high school, I went to college there and made friends who were from the New Orleans area, I moved here in 2003 to be closer to them and for more opportunities, I met my husband within a few months, and 15 years later the rest is history and I have adopted New Orleans as a second hometown.
I’ll admit that, as my now-husband was a Mardi Gras fanatic and went to every single Metairie parade plus Endymion, I got burned out pretty quickly. Especially after a few cold, wet parades. Why should I stand out on a curb in all kinds of weather to catch cheap plastic junk that I did not need? Why should I deal with traffic jams due to closures of major streets? Why should I eat cold fried chicken that had been sitting out since 7:00 a.m.? Not my gig. Mardi Gras was a perfect day off to take care of chores around the house without the boyfriend getting in the way.
Fast forward to about three years ago. I went to watch the Nyx parade for the first time, mostly because my boss’ wife was riding. It was pink. It was glitzy. It was full-on girl power. I loved it. I couldn’t have more respect for how, within just a few years, the all-female krewe became the largest in the world. I started thinking about riding to see what it was like, and when an acquaintance who rides in Nyx shared on Facebook that the waiting list was open, I put my name in. Then I waited. And waited. And waited. And eventually shrugged the whole thing off.
It had started out as a typical Monday when I was checking my e-mail and saw a message from “Nyx Captain” with the subject line, “Congratulations! You have been invited to join the Mystic Krewe of Nyx!” My husband was floored when he received my text message reading, “HOLY SHIT I FINALLY GOT INVITED TO JOIN NYX OMG!!!” As much as I HAD shrugged it off, from the moment I got that e-mail my heart was set on it! We went out to dinner to celebrate, I filled out my paperwork and dropped it right in the mail with a check for my deposit, and I made my first Nyx purse after acquiring supplies at three separate stores. I stalked my e-mail even in the middle of the night until I received the confirmation that my application had been processed and I had the credentials to log into the “Members Only” section of the web site, and I was excited to see there were already several events on the calendar.
So now here this Chicago/New Orleans girl is, with a large box containing at least a dozen purses ready to be decorated, a black ball gown (found on clearance at Dillard’s among the leftover prom dresses on a shopping expedition with my grandmother), manpower ready to load my throws onto my float, and headed to Houston this weekend to meet the Captain and many other Nyx members. Super psyched, of course!
As much as Mardi Gras may never have been in my heart and soul like it is for people born and raised here who enjoyed it as children, and I could even have done without it for a long time, I think I may have finally come to love it. At least, now that I seem to have found my niche among my 3,000-plus sisters. Whose stories are each as unique as my own. Hail Nyx!
Megan Boyle is a first-year member of the Krewe of Nyx.