Editor’s note: This summer we’re running a Throwback Thursday series, when we run our favorite pieces from the past. Today, let’s revisit Brett Will Taylor’s piece from last August, as he discusses lessons you learn from living in NOLA.
Good grief. Yesterday marked the two-year anniversary of my move from Boston to New Orleans.
Has it really been two years? Has it only been two years? Twenty-four months in and it’s hard to remember ever living anywhere else. This city gets into your bones, your blood, your soul … erasing all that has come before and taking control of all that will follow.
That’s what love and lovers do, right?
And there’s no doubt that I love New Orleans. I’m also extremely grateful to her. Because, you see, in just two years, she’s taught me quite a lot. About living in New Orleans. About living, period. Love and lovers do that, too. Right?
To wit, 10 things I’ve learned from living in New Orleans:
10. Love hurts. Oh, sure. Living in this crazy, three-ring-circus of a city is, well, like living in a three-ring-circus. It’s exhilarating. It’s shocking. It’s never dull. And it’s frequently exhausting. But you know what else it is? Sometimes? Heart-wrenchingly painful. Especially those weeks with as many murders as there are days. Or those mornings when the newspaper headlines are about nothing but corruption. But, then you hear a note swinging out the window of a Treme kid learning to play the trumpet. And the hurt passes. Because love conquers pain. Every time.
9. Homes are happier with glitter. It’s been said that glitter is the STD of New Orleans. And let me tell you something: Once that STD gets in your house, there is not a vacuum cleaner, a broom, or even a roll of damp paper towels that will ever get it out. Ever. Which I think makes our homes happier. I know it does me.
8. Time really is relative. Live here long and you really do lose all track of time (and I’m not just talking about an extended evening at The John!). Minutes, hours, days, weeks, months just sort of flow one into the other. A friend of mine confessed to me that she and a coworker once got into a lengthy discussion about what day of the week it was. “He said it was Tuesday; I assured him it was Thursday.” She said that finally one of them thought to look on their phone. It was Monday.
7. Pit bulls are awesome. If you live here, I don’t have to elaborate that point. But what I will elaborate on is the greater lesson of NOLA pits: That sometimes we forget bullies might be bullying because, somewhere along the way, someone bullied them. And that, sometimes, the best antidote to bullying is love. And a pat on the head or a scratch on the butt (be careful where and with whom you try that last one).
6. It really is the simple things. I don’t think you come to New Orleans to realize big dreams. She’s just not wired for that. But you can come here to learn to embrace simple wonders. Like eating chocolate bark at Bacchanal while the Courtyard Kings play. Or sitting on the stoop with your neighbors. Or watching the sun come up over the mighty river that holds us close.
5. It’s also the unexpected things. Live here for long and you will find yourself doing and seeing things you never thought you’d do … or see. Like Uncle Lionel standing at his own wake. Or a drive-through that serves Pimp Juice daiquiris. Or, in my case, becoming co-captain of a krewe whose mascot is a puking unicorn.
4. Your innards are stronger than you think they are. Drink one of those Pimp Juice daiquiris and you’ll find out what I mean. Drink two and you’ll know that even the strongest innards have limits.
3. No one cares what you do for a living. The people of New Orleans don’t care how you make your money (where you went to high school is an entirely different matter). We care how you celebrate your life.
2. You can never do it all. I was just trying to recruit someone for my Krewe of PUEWC. He has lived here all of three weeks and explained that he wasn’t going to get involved with anything here because he wanted to “observe everything there is before committing to one thing.” I explained to him that a) you don’t “observe” in NOLA, you “experience” and b) you can’t experience “everything” of anything here. It’s impossible. Rather, you just walk through doors that open, when they open, and remember that the Universe knows a lot more than you do.
1. There are two kinds of people in the world. Those people who live in New Orleans. And everyone else.
Man, am I glad that two years ago I went from being the latter to living the former.
Happy Anniversary, NOLA!
By the way, to celebrate two years in NOLA and the blessed end of August, I’m taking a few weeks off. See you back here on September 13!
Brett Will Taylor is a southern Shaman who writes Love: NOLA weekly for NolaVie. Visit his site at ashamansjourney.net.