New Orleans, the Summer Flame
By Jackie Leavitt
New Orleans is like someone you wish you could date. It’s a bright flash of instant, head-over-heals infatuation from the heat that relaxes you, and the art and music that inspires you. It’s beautiful and intriguing, with slightly gritty and dark sides.
Everyone has fun stories about New Orleans. Everyone loves it. And you love it at first sight.
Parts of it remind you of other cities you have pasts with, but in a new, exciting and untarnished way. The same cobblestones of Boston. The same trees as Charleston. The same warmth and humidity as Columbo.
It’s approachable, and, better yet, it approaches you. It knows how to have fun and put on a show, but it’s also down to earth and real. It has a deep foreignness that makes you want to learn more. It brings out the sides of you that are more lost – the parts you miss.
The sun caresses your skin. The warmth eases your muscles. The wind lifts your hair, sending it tumbling. The rain cascades over your skin, leaving you tingling. Live music fills the air, pouring out of tiny cafes, restaurants, bars and street corners. Art decorates the city, from paintings in galleries to photography and jewelry in open-air markets to sketches in the alleys. You blindly accept and ease into everything swirling wonderfully, deliriously by you.
And time passes, and you wish it would go on forever.
But then you step back. And you see yourself in the whole picture rather than floating amid the rosy glow.
And when you think about the things that will give you lasting happiness, you realize that you actually don’t fit as perfectly as you thought. Important things you love are missing. New Orleans doesn’t have or care about the things you need and want.
- Where are the mountains you want to hike?
- Where are the streets where you can run?
- Where are the rocks you want to climb?
Trivial, little habits begin to wear on you.
- Why don’t you recycle?
- Why do you always use foam?
- Why do you never cook vegetarian meals?
And then you realize what you love isn’t New Orleans. You love the feeling of who you are when you’re there.
You realize New Orleans is a beautiful and inspiring city, but maybe for a few months, not for life. Because it won’t change for you. And in the end, you wouldn’t want it to.
But maybe you can take a little bit of the experience back in your heart and remember what you love about yourself that you had almost forgotten before meeting.