My dearest New Orleans…
I'm Breaking Up with You
I'm leaving you for another city. Well, not quite yet—Sometime soon. Maybe in six months or maybe in a year. The specifics are fuzzy because I'm preparing for graduation, and my future plans are seemingly always in flux. I know this is very advanced notice, but it seems only fair to tell you now after everything you've given me.
I'm sorry if this feels like it's coming out-of-nowhere, but I promise it's not. It's a decision that I've been mulling over for quite some time now. This wasn't a decision that was made in anger or exasperation. I am very much of sound mind and body as I write you this letter. If I'm honest, I've known for a while now that our time together would soon come to an end.
You want to know why I'm making this decision, I'm sure. I can't lie and say that you were the perfect city, but I can't say I was the perfect resident. We had our problems. What pairing doesn't?
It might be rude of me to point this out, but I feel that I need to say it: Your streets are far too bumpy. Everywhere I look, it's pothole after pothole after unfinished street. When I ride in a car through my neighborhood, I feel like I'm on a dark ride in Disney World with all the constant bumps and jostling. If you put me through another boil water advisory during the warmest, sweatiest months of the year, I might just scream. And don't even get me started on how inconsistent the streetcar is when I need it most.
But I don't want you to think I'm ungrateful for our time together. You've given me some of the best times of my life, some of the memories that I will cherish forever. Where else in the world can you party with the entire city for a week straight? I hold my Mardi Gras memories tight to my chest, even the ones that were spent with people to whom I no longer speak. Those memories could be tainted by my later experiences with those people, but instead they're sprinkled with glitter, bright rays of sun, and, to be totally honest, a lot of sugary booze. Even your unreliable streetcar plays a part in those memories, standing at the very back, packed tightly against the other exhausted, but smiling parade goers on their way home, each of us weighing an extra 10 pounds thanks to the stacks of beads around our necks.
That's the thing about you, New Orleans. Even the bad things about you have a way of bringing people together. Even when the streetcar wasn't working or was inevitably late, my friends and I still managed to make it a good time. Suddenly walking two miles to get to our parade stop or to Rue De La Course because the vibes are good for studying wasn't a problem because we dealt with it together. Even when we're aggravated by the potholes that nearly take out the bottom of our cars, we just send a photo to @lookatthisf**kinstreet on Instagram and commiserate with the other New Orleanians tired of the craters pockmarking our streets. Even after something as devastating as a hurricane, you still managed to bring everyone together in recovery, filling us with the hope that we, just like you, New Orleans, can build back stronger.
I'll miss all the good things about you too, New Orleans. I want you to know that for every bad thing I'm itching to leave behind me, there are twice as many good things I'll miss every day. There will always be a food-sized hole in my heart, yearning for practically everything I've ever eaten during my life here: every delightfully sugary slice of king cake I've ever gorged myself on during Mardi Gras season, every homemade bowl of gumbo that's ever warmed my soul, every juicy sno-ball that's ever cooled me down on a day where the sun beats down just a little too much. I've even got a soft spot for the way you prepare oysters, even though their slime still freaks me out. I'll probably never be able to find anyone who makes a cocktail as good as you either, New Orleans. I can try a Hurricane or a French 75 in another city, but they're never going to live up to that experience of sipping one out of a go cup while tipsily walking down Bourbon Street.
Don't even get me started on the people who call you home. New Orleanians are some of my favorite people with the way they come together in the good times and the bad and are always quick to offer a "hello" or "how ya doing, baby" to passersby.
New Orleanians create art like no other people I've known. The colorful murals splashed across the exterior walls on some of the city's buildings and multitude of canvases sold in Jackson Square are all brilliant in their own ways. There's always lively music playing along sidewalks in the French Quarter and drifting out of windows in Uptown homes, filling listeners up as the notes float into their ears.
All your art, your people, your food, your booze, even your flaws make me love you. You're a place totally incomparable to others—a place uniquely your own.
So you see, I could never forget you, New Orleans. I won't. My family will always be here; you'll always be my home. I plan to visit as often as my bank account allows. I promise you'll see me again someday. Let those worries about my leaving forever fade away and instead think of my inevitable return. As they say, absence makes the heart grow fonder.
For all your flaws, I'll always love you, New Orleans. Don't forget about me.
Signed with love,
A girl leaving her home