[Courtesy of Elle Arden]

Loving NOLA is More About the Five Senses than the Five Love Languages

07:00 February 12, 2024
By: Amy Kirk Duvoisin

Love, NOLA Style

It's February, and St. Valentine and social media are pressuring you to take the online Five Love Languages test. You score highest on Words of Affirmation and Quality Time.

This makes sense. You need to be told often and in various ways that you are loved and appreciated, and you consider time the best commodity to give and be given. This is true for you in all your relationships. Yet, still, something's missing. A few hours later, the love percentages still swirling in your head, you try to assess why your top two categories and the other three (Acts of Service, Physical Touch, Receiving Gifts) still lack a certain je nais sais pas.

As you stroll through City Park, enjoying the sharp Gulf Coast cold that hits NOLA for just a few weeks while much of the rest of the country is facing months of freezing, you smugly appreciate that all "they" have to look forward to is Valentine's Day and a far off spring break, while we've got Mardi Gras and festival season unrolling before us like a magic carpet. As you smile to yourself and mentally plan your next 10 weekends (parade, parade, rest, travel, rest, fest, fest, fest, rest, spring break), you pause when the sweet smell of cypress hits your nose, and you realize why these languages are not exactly your language—because you're a New Orleanian, and you speak NOLA.

Your love for New Orleans is its own love language. New Orleans is your soulmate.

If you know what it means to love New Orleans, you know that there's no test for that—except maybe living through summertime and a hurricane or two. But if we had to put together five love languages of New Orleans, they are more likely to be expressed and defined by the five senses, which is our way of loving (and being loved by) NOLA.

[Courtesy of Adobe Stock/Corythoman]

Where Y'at (Words of Affirmation)

Most New Orleanians, native or newly arrived, would have to admit that it's easy to strike up a conversation with anyone. Whether you're on a streetcar or at a corner store, a fine restaurant, or a street festival, you'll be more than just interacting. You'll be conversing and connecting. If you ask someone how they are, they will tell you, for real. Most of us would score high on this Where Y'at love language. When we ask, "Where y'at?" we mean where you are mentally, spiritually, emotionally. We know where you are. You're here in NOLA, where we really and truly want to know how you are.

Laissez les Bon Temps Rouler (Quality Time)

Quality time in NOLA means enjoyment time, eating time, dancing time, relaxing time, and socializing time. We love parties and that doesn't mean a party for just special occasions. It means a gathering of any sort, be it a cocktail hour with business associates or a Mardi Gras neutral ground party with family and all of your new best friends from around the world. It's a crawfish boil with your neighbors or it's dancing at a fest with a stranger. Many New Orleanians would test positive for this, but you don't have to be a party animal to love it here. There are plenty of people out there having plenty of fun, so you don't have to. So whether you score high on this NOLA love language or not, it's fine. The good times will roll with or without you. We're called the Big Easy for a reason. Do whatcha wanna.

When the Saints Go Marching In (Acts of Service)

This is one of the most culturally Catholic cities in the U.S., so even if you never set foot in church, chances are you are a member of the Saints tribe in one way or another. The generosity of spirit is significant and tangible here. It could be that enduring natural disasters once or more per generation makes us all a bit more giving, understanding, and empathetic. If your love language is giving or receiving help of any kind to make you feel loved, NOLA sees you. You should not go hungry here nor lack shelter. This is not to diminish real homelessness and hunger that exists. It is to say that, overall, New Orleanians are an extraordinarily giving bunch because most of us at one time or another have been temporarily homeless or have lost homes—some of us more than once—and we love food and the making and sharing of it more than most. We want to ensure you get fed. Hell, we even feed our dead here on St. Joseph's Day.

Joi de Vivre (Physical Touch)

If you scored high on getting a lot of physical attention from loved ones, you'll expand your idea of touch in New Orleans. The air touches you, the music touches you, and the food is orgasmic. You might find that your entire body is satisfied in ways you never knew were possible. We're not saying you don't need a hug or more when you live here, nor that you will become celibate because you get what you need from a second line or a softshell crab. We're just saying that you can't always get what you want here, but you will get what you need.

Lagniappe (Receiving Gifts)

Love is given freely here in our music, food, architectural and artistic beauty, laughter, and appreciation of life, despite its many hardships and surprises. Despite everything, New Orleanians look for the rainbow and share their pot of gold with one another. Whether that's literally throwing you something from a float or giving you the sound of music as you walk by, whether it's adding an extra lump of crabmeat to your redfish or overflowing that po-boy with fried shrimp, you're going to be given gifts again and again here.

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