Dear New Orleans,
I didn't know how much it would affect me, but "the feelings getting stronger the more I stay away." Time and time again when asked where I'm from the response is always, "That place is amazing. Why did you leave?"
I respond as every millennial that moved away would, "… to expand my career opportunities." Now that I'm pursuing my acting career in sunny Los Angeles, I have to ask myself will I ever move back home? The freedoms I took for granted while living back home are what I miss the most. Let me paint the picture for you …
Cafe du Monde on any morning 7 days a week; the smell of chicory from the Folgers plant as I'm crossing over the high rise; betting on horses at the Race Track with my family; Lakefront car shows; eating boiled crabs from Cajuns while watching the boats sail on Lake Pontchartrain; devouring a dozen of charbroiled oysters from Neyow's; ordering "good" grits anywhere; climbing the City Park oak trees as I imagine the stories it would tell; Melba's shrimp po-boys and gumbo on the late night grind; bar hopping down Frenchman Street for the music, from soulful jazz at the Spotted Cat, to funky reggae at Cafe Negril, and the second line brass bands in the street; brunching at Russell's every Sunday just to order the same thing-sweet potato beignets, Eggs 9th, and mimosas; wearing the signature Parkway Bakery paper hat while enjoying an overloaded shrimp po-boy and Barq's root beer; New Orleans' chefs who cook with their hearts-each bite of food is filled with so much love it makes you dance, and you can find it on every corner; sweating out a fresh press dancing to Rebirth at Maple Leaf; running into my high school sweetheart at French Quarter Fest; riding neon lit bikes through the CBD with Nick and Blake's "Get Up N Ride NOLA" crew; waking up early for the Saints game and, somehow, before noon, magically attracting too many mimosas and game tickets; muffuletta olive salad from Rouse's; hanging with Mou and Spitta at Jet lounge on Wednesdays; and there's something about NOLA twang that is so intriguing to the ears that the world could listen for hours. It's the spirit of New Orleans that is alive and well in the people. The Spirit always calls us back home.
I came home for Jazz Fest; I couldn't miss that.
I miss the moonlight on the Mississippi River and window shopping the galleries down Royal Street. I miss finding peace walking around the French Quarter aimlessly, letting the music carry me-I coined them "Quarter Walks." I miss sharing the love natives have for pralines, walking on St. Charles during parade season, and riding slow to admire all the lights during Christmas in the Oaks. NOLA has a strong heartbeat and is growing with distinctive strengths more than ever before. We just never give up on New Orleans, and New Orleans never gives up on us. I pray those who have made New Orleans their new home take care of her.
"Do you know what it means to miss New Orleans when that's where you left your heart? But more than I miss New Orleans …" Sir Louis will sing you the rest. I'll be home to visit soon because now I'm hungry, and my first stop will be the new Munch Factory. I'm excited to visit old friends and eat some good ole New Orleans cooking.
See you soon. Love always,