Since I’m on a throwback NOLA kick (here and here), I thought I’d share a bit more.
Sometime I think about how I will respond if someone asks me the craziest or most spontaneous thing I’ve done. I didn’t used to think much of the fact that I packed up and moved to New Orleans for 6 weeks with no car and knowing only one person…I guess because I’ve always felt like I could do anything with enough willpower. Thinking back on it now, I see it for the courageous act that it was.
Here’s an excerpt from an email I dug up from two summers ago:
I celebrated the 4th of July in DC, made a pit stop at home in North Carolina, then flew down to New Orleans (NOLA) with my friend Dominique. I’ve been here 4 weeks so far and it’s been insane! I’m working with Habitat for Humanity with my site leader from Alternative Spring Break, so I’m building houses 5 days a week. I wake up at 6am and sometimes go to bed at 8pm because I’m so tired haha. It’s incredibly rewarding though– and not just my crazy tan and jacked muscles It’s really neat to see that I’m making a tangible difference. Meeting homeowners is especially cool because they are so appreciative. And I got to see the house I worked on over spring break, where a family now lives!
In my off time, I’ve been exploring the city (coffee and French doughnuts at the famous Cafe du Monde, frolicking in the French Quarter, riding the St. Charles Streetcar, etc) and hanging out with my roommates. I found a house on Craigslist with 6 strangers, so there’s an uncanny resemblance to the Real World (how fitting, given our MTV theme!). Everyone always jokes about where our confessional should be. I’ve made lots of trips to Bourbon Street, so in answer to your question, yes, I have lots of Mardi Gras beads…but no, I did not obtain them through questionable methods
In celebration of daring actions, I thought I would leave you with these inspirational tidbits. Ryan, if you’re reading this, these are straight from Pinterest
The Crescent City. Basin Street Blues. City Beneath the Sea. The Big Easy. The Confederacy of Dunces. Ramblin’ Man. The City that Care Forgot.
After watching this music video (which I love!), I got a wave of missing good ole NOLA, where I spent six weeks in the summer of 2009. I went there twice on Alternative Breaks too; each time I volunteered with Habitat for Humanity in Musician’s Village.
A favorite for lunch breaks while at the Habitat worksite
The ever-famous beignets and cafe at Cafe du Monde
The St. Charles Streetcar, which I rode from my house in Uptown to the French Quarter on regular basis
The best burger in the world!
What stay in New Orleans is complete without a stop (or five) to Bourbon Street?!
I remember the first time I drove through the Lower Ninth Ward and saw the affected areas. We all craned our necks to see the lettering marked on the doors of destroyed houses- letters that designated whether bodies had been found inside. And once we found them, an eerie feeling would wash over us. Yes, we were tourists- outsiders coming through a neighborhood we had no real connection to. But we then spent hour and days working on reconstruction efforts, so our desire to understand the area we were working in was, in my opinion, both essential and admirable.
New Orleans has an almost mystical quality about it; it’s unlike any other city I’ve been in. It’s an interesting place that I can’t wait to visit again but one where I don’t see myself ever living. The dichotomy between the beauty and destruction lends it a strange, intriguing, inexplicable, romantic, unsettling quality. I want to spend more time understanding the culture, but I also see parts of a culture which I am unsure of. Regardless of my mixed emotions toward the city, I always- without fail- feel a tinge of nostalgia when I see images or songs about it.