Six Months in New Orleans

I’ve lived in New Orleans for more than six months now, and to say that life is different is an understatement. I have learned to peel crawfish and debone fish. I have deciphered a new dialect (NOT like the TV shows, people!), and taken the streetcar multiple times because it was the most practical way. I have been handed fish longer than my arm that were caught the day before, because my coworker had just too many and there wasn’t room to store them.

Actually, the most memorable experiences usually involved fish.Some that don’t are . . .

Mosquitoes. Let me be clear – I’m not new to mosquitoes in general. A staple of my wholesome Midwestern upbringing was “if you stop scratching it, then it will stop itching” mantra. True, most mosquitoes seemed unable to brave the New York air, and maybe that is why the New Orleans mosquitoes have been one of the biggest surprises. The buggers seem unstoppable! I don’t even see the little things, but within five minutes of the sunsets, my ankles are suddenly itchy and swelling if I am outside. I think they are the foundation of the New Orleans ecosystem, along with oak trees and beads.

But, the mosquitoes might be worth what to eat them, which are lizards!

They are just as common as New York squirrels except that New Orleans are more relaxed around people. Perhaps the New York squirrels were more anxious because of the population difference, which my second point is all about.

15 minutes to Most Places. With a population comparable to all of Iceland, the elbow room is lovely, but also a big transition. Not that there aren’t crowded places or times (read: Jazz Fest), but for the most part, when walking down the street, my foot pattern doesn’t look I’m knitting with my ankles, like it had in New York. The crush of people just isn’t present. And, it may be a result of the culture or it may be the space (or a combo of the two), but, counter-intuitively, the distance allows for more connection with random individuals. When I speak with a cashier, I am more relaxed because I don’t have a line of people breathing down my neck, and I’m not worried about getting a parking ticket. And when it comes to going someplace, I am much more open to a new experience because I don’t have to risk passing by the GW Bridge or the subways crowds.

This is sounding very suburban, and it is. But suburban doesn’t have to mean boring or like your parents (sorry Mom and Dad – love you guys!). It can mean breathing space while still living close to work. It can mean grass under my feet with a coffee house close by. It is allowing myself to relax, while knowing that I’m still reachable.

And yes, it can mean 15 minutes to most places. After taking an hour to go eight miles in New York, I’ll take the 15, especially when the scenery is gorgeous. Have you guys seen our trees?

The trees are AMAZING!!!

How is this real life and not an impressionist painting? My street is a canopy of flowering trees right now, most of them home to lots of lizards, and I swear soon I’ll be revealed as a Disney princess.

Because how is it possible that I live near by this?

And that my park is like this?

Sigh. I love New Orleans. Even in this 9000 degree heat.