At home in New Orleans
On Tuesday, I landed in New Orleans.
I was greeted there by a good friend I’d never yet met in person.
(That happens with blogging. When you’ve already met in heart and mind, the physical meeting isn’t really the first meeting.)
Lisha picked me up outside the airport. We chatted comfortably as she took me on a two-hour tour of her beloved city.
Having just experienced the thrill of discovering history, I rejoiced to see–thanks to Lisha’s narrative–not only now with my eyes, but before-now in my mind.
On Wednesday, I walked to a mini-mart at 6 a.m. to buy a pair of rhinestone-adorned flip-flops. These aren’t standard attire for me, but wearing them was way better than spending one more minute in the seemingly sensible but actually painful pair of shoes I’d brought from Los Angeles.
I hung out with colleague friends I don’t usually get to see live. I relished their nearness.
I enjoyed a keynote presentation by graffiti artist Erik Wahl, who painted a Bono picture over the course of a single U2 song.
He painted an eagle and Einstein in like fashion.
And the Bob Marley painting?
Well, that’s on the box he’ll use to ship the Bono picture to the risk-taker who won it.
(His point? Take risks!)
After a day spent trying to absorb every bit of data, insight, and wisdom I’d been presented, I walked to Rouses, the French quarter grocery store Lisha had shown me. I picked up a few groceries and savored the sights along the way there and back.
Lisha met me back at the hotel, and then whisked me off to a free outdoor concert nearby.
“You can’t beat good music, good food, and good company,” she said as we made our way around the concert.
I couldn’t have agreed more.
On Thursday, I saw a couple of women at my conference walking by with a blow-up killer whale.
Almost two decades after researching killer whales in British Columbia, I was thrilled to finally get a picture with one.
Near bedtime, someone at the hotel bar had the gall to try striking up a conversation with me when I was clearly reading blogs.
She and I ended up talking for two hours.
I went to bed feeling just fine about having connected with good people one way instead of the other.
This morning, I rose and packed my backpack to bursting for my return home. I’d slept fitfully, dreaming missing-family dreams.
I attended another couple of sessions before leaving the conference with my equally return-ready friends.
Lisha picked us all up soon afterward, detouring from the airport to a park through which she and I had driven three days earlier. I’d wanted a picture of the moss-covered trees there, but lost that objective in all our lively meeting-in-person conversation.
(Not a bad trade!)
I spotted a climbable tree. At its base, I slipped off my flip-flops so I could scurry up.
I grinned, both for being in this tree then and that tree before.
(History perceptibly touching now!)
I didn’t get a good tree moss picture, but I was pleased with my few pictures all the same.
At the airport again, Lisha hopped out of her car to give me a big hug.
I handed her a card I’d gotten from the drugstore down the street after I finished packing earlier.
I am so grateful for Lisha’s warmth and hospitality. Thanks to her, and that, I was able to feel the grit and the glow of New Orleans.
I was able, as I wrote in her card, to bask in the comfort of “being at home, just in a different city.”