What it means to miss New Orleans

Friday, May 22, 2009

At Slappy's graduation, someone sang a song, probably one that a lot of you are familiar with called "I know what it means to miss New Orleans" and at the time I sort of laughed at the song because for a few weeks now, I really haven't thought I'd much miss it here. Truly. I'm going back home. Back to the place I want to be, or so I have long believed.

When Slappy was applying for medical school, we had only been dating a few months. I had no pull, no sway and no real say in anything in the process, and I watched from the sidelines. In the end, the choice came down to a school in New York and a school in New Orleans. Honestly, I prayed that he'd pick New York. I know that sounds crazy, but what I knew of New Orleans was dirtiness, and drinking and raucusity and other such stereotypical things.

And yet, to New Orleans he went. I had my first tripped planned to see the place on September 1st, 2005. If you'll check any history book anywhere, you'll know that I did not get to go on that trip. Just 3 measly days after Katrina, the hospital was still a hospital, the city still very much underwater. In fact, I think it was on September 1st that Slappy came home to California for a while.

And in August of 2006, after visiting twice, I moved to the Big Easy. The transition was actually much easier than I imagined. It helped that I started work almost right away and had that as a time occupier. It helped that Slappy had some friends and was my very best friend, so I was never lonely. But I was not at home either.

People in New Orleans don't watch each other when they drive like they do in California. They don't just say hello when they see you outside, and they really want to know where you're at. I was not in Kansas anymore. But in time, I grew to love it.

I love the city and its changing personalities. I love the trees that cover the neighborhood we live in and tell the story of generations before us living in these very walls. I love the street car, even if it makes our house shake sometimes and even if I've never technically ridden it, because it reminds me of far off days and of scenic histories. I love the food, oh my God I love the food. The flavors are more amazing than one can even begin to hope to put words to and it has been a travesty that in our most recent eating jaunt, my sense of taste has been not functioning well.

I love the people here. I love that the person bagging up my groceries calls me "baby" and they're not being condescending. I love that if you accidentally bump into someone, they also say excuse me, as if they weren't sure if they were at fault. I love that waiters and waitresses will sit and have a conversation with you and I love that chefs and cooks wander around their restaurants chatting left and right.

I love the profound lack of real traffic, I love the ever changing weather, I love the feeling of community I get and I love the special feeling I have when I realize that, even if for a short time, I am a New Orleanian. I am a part of this city and this city is a part of me.

And in 9 days, when Slappy and I get in our car and moving van and drive out of here, I will shed a tear and I will remember this home, this period in my life with great fondness.

And I'm pretty sure that then I'll know what it means to miss New Orleans.


stacey said...

Hopefully you will come back to visit! Especially if the city has really gotten her hold on you! You won't be able to NOT visit!

anita said...

Once New Orleans gets under your skin, you're always a New Orleanian...even if you don't live here...just remember to be a New Orleanian no matter where you are...

Flea said...

Awww. You almost make me miss New Orleans! Girl, you're good. I sure do miss the food.

Liz said...

I moved here in August 2007 reluctantly from CA. Would I miss NOLA - I think I would --

Sue G said...

Oh, but I keep hearing this old song when I think of you in nine days:

California here I come,
Right back where I started from....

I was only in New Orleans once. We stopped there on the way back home from Gulf Shores. Or Florida. I forget. What I do remember is having my young kids with me and taking them to the French Quarter.

Uh huh. Bad idea.

Before you leave, you must regale us with stories of Slappy's graduation (read: MIL visit).

Anonymous said...

Glad you'll have such great memories!
Know that I'm here praying!
Psalms 31:24 Be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart, all ye that hope in the LORD.
Prayer BearsMy email address

Elizabeth Kaylene said...

I guess that means you guys will just have to visit. (: I really want to see New Orleans now!

Anonymous said...

I love love love love reading stuff like this!! I've lived in Louisiana most of my life (born and raised in Baton Rouge). So reading this allows me to see it through your eyes, and appreciate (even if for a moment) a city I take for granted.