My Heart Belongs to New Orleans

Don’t get me wrong, I love my city life. I can walk anywhere I want, and the park never disappoints when it comes to people and dog watching. Our local cafe manages to make the best Chai tea latte I’ve ever had, and it’s better than most cities since no tourists come to our little ‘city within the city’ to sightsee. But my new hometown will never have the hold on my heart that New Orleans has.

I fell in love with New Orleans three years ago. I’ve been going there once a year ever since, and I now find myself visiting just for the food. For breakfast, I like to eat at the Ruby Slipper (the eggs cochon is amazing!) or Cafe DuMonde for beignets and the best cafe au lait I’ve ever tasted. For lunch (or dinner), I go to ACME Oyster House for a dozen chargrilled oysters and a Dr Pepper, because the waitress we have every time we go (and yes, she actually remembers us) says “Dr Pepper” in a way that makes me just melt. Other than those staples, we usually wing it. You can never go wrong with any restaurant in New Orleans, especially if you order a roast beef sandwich!

On my first visit to New Orleans, I dragged my parents to the French Quarter just so I could go to The New Orleans Historic Voodoo Museum. My dad waited outside, and my mom bravely walked through and let me talk her ear off for an hour. Afterwards we got on a horse-drawn carriage and toured the French Quarter. I was, and still am, fascinated by the uniqueness of every building.

And don’t get me wrong, the cemeteries are pretty cool. One of my favorite stories is the mystery behind Marie Laveau’s final resting place. There are two tombs dedicated to her at the Saint Louis Cemetery. The story I was told is one tomb is a wishing tomb. Three “x’s” and an offering means Marie will grant your wish. The other tomb has Marie’s name on it, but no one is sure if it’s really Marie buried in the tomb. Others believe Marie’s body is spread all across the swamps of New Orleans.

I love everything this Voodoo town has to offer. I can’t wait until I’m eighteen so I can go in a jazz club. And when we visited this last time, I finally got to ride a streetcar! I pretended I was Blanche from A Streetcar Named Desire, because why not! We walked the riverwalk, and I’m pretty sure I saw Huckleberry Finn and Jim navigating the Mississippi on their makeshift raft (the wigwam on top was still pretty intact).

If there is one place you have to go when you visit, it’s Jackson Square. Artists showcase their art along the fence of the park, and musicians can be heard singing or playing blues or jazz. A lot of the artists are quite talented and you have to control yourself from buying a dozen pieces of art! Jackson Square also has a good lesson embedded in the cobblestones you walk across. The art of not being afraid, of being willing to show your vulnerability and to let your talents shine through. Going up on stage to sing, act, or play an instrument is nerve-wracking for some. Painting a piece of art or writing a book takes confidence, because in the end you’re going to put everything out there for the public to judge, and if you can’t handle the criticism or take the compliments with a sense of humility, you won’t make it. Jackson Square has shown me that if I really want to be great and not just good at acting, singing, playing guitar and piano, then I have to be willing to free myself of fear and thoughts of “what if people don’t like me?”. The moment I do this to myself, I become boxed in a corner and deny myself the ability to shine.

This is why New Orleans is my favorite place. The food, mystery, and life lessons keep me wanting more from this three hundred-year-old town. And I can’t wait to go back next year.

Maybe next time I can make friends with a vampire or a rougarou.

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