Around dinnertime, when the sun sits low in the sky, lined up with the drooping branches of oaks, porches begin to fill with people. New Orleanians move outdoors as the moon rises and streetlamps light. Screen doors swing open and slam shut as people wait for cornbread to bake and collard greens to boil.

Driving through Central City your eyes catch the gleam of High Life bottles balanced on an old man’s knee, and glittery hula hoops that girls wind around their hips. To the left: a young father battles his five year old with a 2 x 4 sword. To the right: a middle-aged widow taps her toes off beat to the soft sound of a scratchy Ellington record playing inside. They wait for timers to ring, microwaves to chime, pots to bubble over. When the entire day is spent at a desk- on the couch- over the stove, the porch offers a sanctuary away from any work or obligations.

The dinner table, piled with bills, dishes, beads and books seems less appealing than the stoop out front, where the clutter is often minimal or at least made up of meaningful triggers to remind you of previous nights spent on a terrace. The function of the dinner table, a place once meant for eating-gathering-conversing, is lost in it’s clutter and position next to a heated oven on broil and a stove with four burners going.

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