New Orleans. The Big Easy. The City that Care Forgot. Immediately upon arriving here, you pretty much begin to understand why this place has the nicknames that it does. New Orleans is quite literally unlike any other city I’ve ever been to. It’s been over 2.5 months into my travels, and it seems appropriate that this is where they would end (at least temporarily). People talk about New York being the city that never sleeps, but I can assure you that it is just as easy to never sleep in this town. 24 hour bars and a lack of open container laws, jazz music and hustling performers on the streets, obnoxious tourists attempting to re-enact Mardi Gras on a nightly basis, thousands of folks just trying to get by, and still not a day goes by that I haven’t heard someone bring up Katrina. I’m trying to find my place here, but I know it’s going to be a bit of a challenge. The people certainly don’t move as fast as NYC, but they certainly take care of their own in the same way. Since arriving, i’ve stayed with 3 different CouchSurfing hosts, all pretty fantastic people, each with their own stories about how they got here. The people, on the whole, are genuinely nice, which is, well, nice in itself. Strangers start up conversation, and not just because they’re drunk at the bar. This is certainly not Miami. On the whole, people are more than willing to point you in the right direction of whatever you might need. And there’s a small town feel because it is inherently a small town. The city proper, which is where i’m staying, only has a bit over 300k individuals. It’s no wonder i’ve already started running into people and recognizing people, and i’ve been just shy of a week! It’s bizarre, i’ll say that.
In the past few weeks, I’ve been to 7 different cities and slept on more beds and surfaces than I care to count. I’m not sure if I’ll actually be able to sustain myself here in New Orleans, but I’ve begun to hunt for jobs and hope that something pops up. Money is of course an issue, but hopefully won’t be for much longer. This is definitely a hustling city. Jobs are hard as hell to come by, especially the kind that i’m used to, in cushy offices. Service industry seems the best route to go, or so they tell me, so i’m basically putting my eggs in as many different baskets as I can. Everyone says I should at least stay for Halloween, and fingers crossed i’ll at least achieve that. But honestly, I really wouldn’t mind sticking it out here for at least a few months, maybe through next year or even past that. There’s something so alluring about this place. It has a different energy than anywhere else I’ve been. I’m an agnostic on the whole, but it’s like there’s magic in the air. Maybe it’s all the voodoo shops and the random pagan folks I’ve met and the enchantment of the above ground cemeteries. The night air just feels different. And every day i’m here, even if it’s a bit rough hunting down employment, I fall in love with something new. The houses, the architecture. The street cars, especially at night. The music, which i’ve only yet begun to hear. The whole concept of the Second Line. Like I said, there’s just an energy here that can’t be replicated anywhere else. Some people say this is the most unique city in America, and while I haven’t seen all of America yet, I’d say they were right in my eyes. There are plenty of amazing places in this country. I’ve been surprised at the things I’ve found on my journey thus far, changing my own misconceptions about what places were “supposed” to be like, allowing myself to get lost in foreign towns and then found again. If I was in love with travel before, I am basically feeling obsessed with it now. This is definitely going to be a lifestyle to maintain for the rest of my life. But for now, I’m courting New Orleans, or she is courting me. We dance a little and flirt a lot and man, does she like to buy me drinks. And even if I end up having to go back home and reassess for just a little while until things pick up, I can definitely see myself coming back.
But for now, as the French say, laissez les bon temps rouler!