Why travel? Five days in New Orleans

The husband and I really only share two interests - travel, and each other. I suppose our lack of commonality is a bit worrying if you stop to think about it, but we usually don't: we're too busy either travelling, or planning our next trip :) 

I feel like our generation prides itself on being unflappable. Thanks to the internet, we've seen everything. There's nothing we don't have a clever response to. I am a cynical person, but I'm growing less blase as I see more of the world. I'm not saying I always walk around open-mouthed with wonder when we travel. But for me, it's all worth it for those moments (and there are many) when you realize you don't really know everything. This is why I love travel: you can't take things for granted when the world's constantly surprising you. 

We just got back from New Orleans, which reinforced this. There's nothing about the city that resembles anything we've seen or done in the past. Who knew a city in North America could be so charming? An All Saints game + a Mardi Gras parade on Saturday night showcased Bourbon Street at its eccentric best - you could totally imagine it was still the 1920's and the Jazz Age had never ended. 

I don't want to glorify alcohol, but it fueled some incredibly beautiful scenes that night - most memorably, outrageously overdressed people on every balcony throwing beads and dollar notes into the crowd below. There wasn't a cab in sight, so we walked two miles back to our B&B, eavesdropping on surprisingly coherent proclamations. It was like something out of a Fitzgerald novel. I was very tempted to just walk the streets all night recording what we heard. 

Sober, N'awlins is still surreal. I didn't see a single piece of art we didn't want to buy. The most average live music was better than most, and the really good jazz blew my mind away. It really all belongs in another time. Life slows down in Lousiana - each meal took an hour, no one seemed to be in a hurry. Jambalaya, gumbo, beignets, po-boys, grits, biscuits and gravy, fried okra - not a bad haul for two vegetarians meeting Southern food for the first time.

I wouldn't want to live in New Orleans - romanticism aside, it's not the safest city, it's always noisy and I can't cushion how dirty the streets are - but as a vacation, wow.


For the days when I find myself sitting around in pajamas at eleven, deploring the end of civilization as I once knew it; I put down this list of the specific times when I won't miss being at work.

Monday mornings.

Endless Tuesday afternoons.

'The weekend's too far away on both sides, God has abandoned me,' on Wednesdays, at noon.

'Oh God, why isn't it Friday' Thursday mornings.

'4 o' clock, eye on the clock' Friday evenings.

'Argh, it's going to be Sunday soon' Saturday nights.

'Burrowing deeper in bed trying to pretend Monday doesn't exist' Sundays.


The library in our condo is always abandoned, and the gym's thriving at all hours. If the situation were reversed, I'd be happy to use either; but as it stands, I steer clear of both. 

Instead, I walk a kilometer to the next nearest library, and feel like I've had a decent workout along the way. 

Last Wednesday, it stormed furiously through the day. By the time I walked to the library at noon, the snow had piled up neatly, and no attempt had been made to rein it in yet. No salt splashes, no brown slush marks, just a sea of white for the entire kilometer. 

Midweek, midday, everyone else seemed happy to stay cocooned in their offices. The roads were empty, there were maybe thirty people out, and any noise they made was lost in the snow.

It was magical.

New girl who just happens to be in Toronto

I don't feel like I'm new to Toronto any more. I don't bother wearing gloves unless it's below -10 C. The only time I'm rude is when I hiss, "Thank you," meaningfully at whoever who didn't bother saying so unprompted. And I wholeheartedly see the appeal of patio time now, and will be the first one barbecuing when (if) summer finally arrives.

I do feel like a new person though. Long after everyone's moved past the 'new year, whee!' phase, I'm still jumping up and down. There's something about turning 27 that makes you realize there's a time limit on the number of crazy risks you can get away with. You're old, sure, but it's also your last real chance to be young. So I quit my job a couple of weeks ago, and plan to spend this year writing and travelling. 

Put like that, it sounds so easy. Kumbaya, etc. If only. My easy-going exterior is a total facade. This decision was at least five years in the making. It took my insecure, money-loving, uptight self a great deal of effort to put down my papers and walk away from the Job. I also don't recall protesting when my manager asked me if I could stay on for an additional four months after that momentous decision (bit of an anticlimax, that).

So what happens now? Well. A lot less whining about wanting to quit but not being 'readyyy,' that's for sure. 

I'm going to use all that spare time to... write at least one full length book, and many other things besides (such as long letters to old friends!) Cook loads, eat every single meal every single day, and fatten up my husband. Attend a friend's wedding, with all the happiness that entails. Catch up with people back home, in person. Travel through Europe, hoping for more of the 'woah' moments that Spain inspired. Take a summer holiday with friends. Do lots of long weekend trips. And those are just the things I've already committed to!

This year's going to be about no excuses, no compromises, just doing whatever I think will make me happy. And then being happy. Isn't that what we all wanted to be when we grew up?

Life's good.*

*If this post gives you an unsettling sense of deja vu, it's because I liberally borrowed from my personal blog. I apologize for the cross-pollination of this, and a couple of other posts, over the next week or so.