Home > Blogging, Friends, Travel > At home in New Orleans

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Sitting there reminded me of countless childhood hours spent up in a tree with my sister Rache in our backyard.

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.

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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.”

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  1. May 13, 2016 at 6:59 pm

    Awe, I love that!! I’m glad you could combine work and fun and new family all together like that!!

    • May 14, 2016 at 4:26 am

      It rocked! I feel like it was the perfect trip length and balance of quiet and activity.

      Also awesome? D was still (barely) awake when I got home. He pulled my forehead t0 his and said, “I’m so glad you’re back” before falling asleep. ♡

  2. May 13, 2016 at 7:00 pm

    I enjoyed taking this trip with you….here on your blog.

  3. May 13, 2016 at 7:20 pm

    You are SO sweet. The pleasure was all mine! Looking forward to seeing you again, now that we’re real-life friends!

    • May 14, 2016 at 4:28 am

      I already can’t wait for my boys (big and little) to visit New Orleans! We’d been talking abstractly about traveling with them, but now I really, really feel inspired to start making it happen. My heart is so full after that trip. Mmm.

  4. May 13, 2016 at 8:26 pm

    Glad you had such a good trip! And wow, those paintings. It’s amazing how people can create like that in minutes when others (like me) can barely draw stick figures that are recognizable.

    • May 14, 2016 at 4:36 am

      The painter actually stopped painting (or believing he could create art) after a teacher defined “good art” as that occurring strictly within clearly defined boundaries. He only picked up the brush at 30(ish?) when he lost his job and a friend suggested art as an outlet; it didn’t have to be or look any certain way, but the act of creating it would be cathartic. That is exactly what he found, and now, here’s what he does!

      That session left me feeling we’re moving the right direction with D’s education: “There are many ways to experience and create art, and we’ll support that whether or not your strokes are in any prescribed order!”

      It also reminded me how good it felt to create stuff in Japan. I picked up paints, crayons, special glue, and various other items at the hyaku-en store and has a blast creating, no matter what the end result looked like. (I even liked the outcome sometimes!)

      • May 14, 2016 at 10:33 pm

        Ugh, teachers like that. I know many who give up writing, whether it’s stories or poetry, because of teachers who have these inflexible rules of what makes something good.

        I’m up too late, I totally read that as “haiku store” 😀 It feels so good to use your hands to create something! It can be incredibly calming (even if the end result is a lumpy, hard loaf of bread).

  5. Paul
    May 13, 2016 at 8:31 pm

    Felt like I was right there with you – excellent post Deb.

  6. May 13, 2016 at 10:56 pm

    Big, big smiles.
    And isn’t it lovely to find that we have blogging friends firmly entrenched in our hearts…

  7. May 13, 2016 at 11:56 pm

    What a wonderful trip. I love that you connected with so many people, one way or another 🙂

    • May 14, 2016 at 4:48 am

      Appropriately, one of the few blogs I read before connecting another way was about oxytocin. The next morning, oxytocin came up in a session about retaining “tribal knowledge.” One attendee said research supports that lessons are learned much better when they involve storytelling–context, connection, etc.–instead of straight factual analysis. That got me to thinking about blogging and Hamilton. In each case, the emotional connection of hearing/feeling individual voices makes me feel … connected to life, history, others. It goes beyond facts and into experiencing something viscerally beyond myself. I love it, and having a slightly more defined understanding of why. 🙂

  8. May 14, 2016 at 8:10 am

    Don’t you love it when things work out… and you have a wonderful time in the process… and you’ve got great photos to remember it by? I do, and your post makes me happy. What fun!

  9. May 15, 2016 at 10:51 pm

    I have always wanted to visit there. Such a culturally significant city. Now I have seen a little through your eyes. 🙂 Great to see a new post from you.

  10. May 16, 2016 at 9:18 am

    Sounds like a wonderful trip. How great that you took the time and trouble to DO this, instead of just dreaming about it, as most of us do.

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