Editor’s Note: This year for GiveNola Day, we are focusing on our Hit List. These are the articles, columns, and pieces that citizens in New Orleans have loved throughout our 5 years as a non-profit. Joey Albanese wrote for NolaVie back in 2013. His column “Twenty (Something) Questions” was a weekly column that showered New Orleans with praise and admiration. Looking back on one of this most famous columns that went viral and touched many peoples’ hearts, we wanted to reshare his love story that only those in New Orleans can experience.
A year ago today, I moved for a girl.
She’s the kind of girl you’re nervous to introduce your parents to, you know? She’s a little rough around the edges. But you know they’ll love her eventually, once they see what she does to you.
She’s a bit of a bad girl. She breaks rules. She’s free, and kind of easy. And she gets around. People know of her. And of her parties. But the great thing is that you don’t really need an invitation. You can just sort of show up.
She’s a busy girl. Always with someplace to be. But that doesn’t make her any less present. She can strike up a conversation with anyone; doesn’t matter what they look like or how much money they make or where they went to school. She’s not like other girls. She tells it like it is.
She’s always down for anything. It doesn’t matter the time of day. She’s like an antique watch with her hands stuck at 5 o’clock. She’s always got a cocktail in her hand and knows her way around the kitchen too. She dances even when there’s no music. And she’s got this thing about her that makes you want to be the same way.
Sometimes she makes you happy. Sometimes she makes you sad. She challenges you. She’ll even make you a little uncomfortable. But she makes you feel alive. She captivates you. She’s like a drug. And she leaves you wanting more.
She’s got style. Not like the girls you see in magazines or walking down the runway. There’s something humble about her beauty. Like she’s not trying to be anything. She’s got gorgeous hand-me-downs passed down from generation to generation that she crosses with something funky she made herself.
And she’s all about color. She mixes black and blue and gets away with it. Sometimes she looks like she hasn’t showered in days. But she pulls it off. She makes you want to wear blue jeans and the same white t-shirt everyday. It’s hard to believe she’s even American; you’d think she were European or something.
She’s a small town girl, though. With a lot of different beliefs. She’s not religious. Spiritual, I would say. She’s intuitive. There’s an energy about her. A knowing. That we’re all connected.
She’s not easy to be with, though. She’s got a lot of baggage. She’s been through a lot, and you can see it in her eyes. Trauma, neglect, loss of family members, economic hardship. But she’s open about it. She loves sharing her story. About how she hit rock bottom and managed to get back up again
People say she’s not supposed to be here. The odds aren’t in her favor. She wasn’t supposed to make it. But she’s a fighter. She lives in the moment. And seizes every day like they’re all one.
She’s the kind of person who never really changes. You can move away, find someone else who grabs your heart and lose touch. But years from now, you’ll think of her. Of her sweet scent on warm summer days, of those sleepless nights when she wouldn’t let you miss the sunrise, of the way she made you feel like there was no one else in the room.
And you’ll forget why you left. Because there’s no one else like her. And maybe you’ll come back for her. Maybe for a visit, maybe for good. But regardless, she’ll be here. And you can pick things up right where you left off.
If you meet her, you’ll know what I mean. Just follow the river all the way south and before you get to the swamps, ask for her. They’ll tell you where to find her. Just make sure you pronounce her name right.
It’s said like ‘New Awlins.’