Dear New Orleans,
I’ve had my eye on you for years and feel like our tryst has really just begun. As a kid, I watched you from afar, separated by a lake that needed saving and 24-miles of continuous concrete that felt like it never ended, but relished every time I was in your arms. Your streets have a warped way of beckoning me to stay, ushering me deeper into your lore, your culture, your mixed-up madness that draws my soul back every time.
As a college student, you were my forbidden love, a place I couldn’t wait to escape to, but never truly knew the depth of what you could offer. The nights we spent together buried on Bourbon Street with a drink too strong or a night so long it waned into morning will always have a place in my heart. The people you introduced me to are so unique even the likes of Tennessee Williams and John Kennedy Toole couldn’t conjure characters as wild, spry, and truly one-of-a-kind.
Now as an adult, our love has blossomed beyond the simple fondness of childhood to a pure, unadulterated passion for what you offer. It’s the second lines that drown out the sorrow of loss so loud you forget why you were ever sad and remember only the good left behind. Your streets packed with every color of person, diverse, strong, weak, old, and young, we’re all here with you as the music plays and transforms that passion into an authentic beat that plays forever in your mind and echoes against the buildings for years. The beat that sits on your cobbled concrete, sometimes broken, but always true, sinks into my feet as I walk the sidewalks, always exploring, looking for what you’ll offer me next.
It’s the concrete angels, always watching over your storied cemeteries and the ever-present sounds of horns, wafting through the air like the scent of charbroiled oysters a few blocks away, that makes you so different, but so familiar. It’s the lines for a $3 cup of ice saturated with sugar water, or a po-boy with shrimp and roast beef gravy, that isn’t on the menu, that makes you so attractive and brings my desire full circle.
Spending Sundays with you, wrapped up in Black and Gold, chanting the words that seemed to form from my lips as a babe, “Who Dat!” is the only place I want to be. Huddled beneath your dome with 60,000 or more of my best friends and watching our team go marching is the only way to spend a Sunday. You and me, New Orleans, will always have a passionate distaste for those ‘birds’ from Atlanta, even if we welcome to our city and share our spirits and booze with them, they won’t know what it truly means to believe!
Your Carnival is unrivaled and deeply a piece of my soul. Mardi Gras with you is the only way to celebrate and while I love to share the good times with visitors, we know Carnival will always be for us, an escape from the harsh reality that sometimes clouds your streets, a respite from the daily grind, a chance to celebrate with everyone who loves you as much as I do!
It’s the people, the culture, the food, oh God, the food, and you New Orleans, that keeps me happy, keeps me sated, keeps me craving more. So whether I’m walking the French Quarter at three in the morning, running through the oaks at City Park, or just strolling down Bayou St. John, my heart will always be yours.
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