sacramento, san francisco, la, laguna beach, seattle, nashville, new york, portland, orlando, and other random little cities scattered throughout the country. but there is no other city like new orleans.
when i first decided to move home i was going to drive. but it was going to be too expensive so i decided to fly which i was bummed about. i was really looking forward to seeing the country on my drive back. so when i was talking to my friend amanda about it she told me that if i wanted to wait to move a week later than i had planned on that she would have a three day weekend (which never happens) and that we should do something before i leave. i agreed and she asked me where is the one place out here i wanted to go before moving back to sacramento and without hesitation i replied: new orleans.
she of course was completely ecstatic to go and at dinner she text our friend rafer and asked him if he wanted to go. i think he replied something along the lines of, "oh heck yes im down!" we had about a week and a half to plan and by the time we packed up and left our group consisted of me and amanda, rafer, jason (amanda's boyfriend), and amelia (amanda's roommate). luckily, to fly out of new orleans was a few hundred dollars cheaper than to fly from florida so that was definitely the icing on the cake.
we took the four hour drive and as soon as we entered the city i had slowly started to fall in love with it. the buildings, the people, and even the slow hum of music that can be heard all around. everything was wooing my heart and making me wish i never had to leave. when we got to our hotel (that rafer did the "name your price" on priceline) and we couldn't believe our eyes. we were staying at a holiday inn, down the street from everything we could ever want to get to, and in the heart of new orleans. i think we might have jumped up and down in excitement. we took the two elevators, one being gold i might add, up to our room and all inhaled at the beauty of our view. everything about our trip so far was complete perfection. we all opened up some craft beers, mine being a delicious apple beer, and made a toast to a wonderful night with wonderful friends. we scattered our stuff about our room and the girls took over the bathroom with clothes and make up sprawled everywhere. we painted on our makeup, pinned our hair, and put on dresses while the guys put on button ups and nice pants.
finally, we decided to hit the town. first we stopped at the mothers cafe to get some dinner in our bellies. i shared a huge plate of jambalaya, grits, and collard greens with amelia and sipped on sweet lemonaid. i just have to point out that there is nothing more delicious than jambalaya in new orleans. i don't even like it normally but dear heavens i have never tasted anything so delicious in all my life (well except breakfast the next morning but we are getting to that:D). after our tummies were full we went across the street to the harris casino to get some free drinks. i guess in a casino if you gamble you get free drinks so i played $3 and i think rafer and jason both won some money. i don't like gambling so once i got my drink i wandered around with amanda looking at all the games and people watching. after we finished our drinks we left harris and went down the street to one of the stores they liked last time they visited. its kinda weird that in new orleans you can walk around with an open container! its crazy people just opening beers on the sidewalks haha.
all i wanted to do was head down burbon street so with drinks in hand we walked towards the sound of chaos and excitement. burbon street. sigh. it is everything you can imagine new orleans being. times 100. there is music. there are extremely drunk people. there are bars lining both sides of the street. and there are beads being thrown from balconys. there is literally nothing like it in the whole world. we spend the rest of the evening cruising in and out of bars. meeting people. trying new drinks. and dancing. so, so much dancing. you can walk into a dance club and just start dancing your way into the middle of the floor. it was amazing. i think the dancing was my favorite part of the night. the five of us made a little circle and twirled and shimmied and shook what our mama's gave us. it was so freeing. at one point streamers rained down from the sky and i knew that in that moment i don't think i could ever feel so free. i thought to myself THIS is happiness.
we met this one guy, flattering frank is what rafer called him, who was one of the sweetest older men i have ever met. he was walking down the street and stopped when i smiled at him and came over just to tell me i was beautiful. of course i blushed and thanked him but he was persistent in telling me to believe im beautiful. he said he could tell i don't think i am and that he thinks thats sad. whenever we saw him throughout the evening he would come over and tell me to be happy and know im beautiful. it was so sweet and definitely made me so happy.
we ended the night at cafe du monde eating beignets at three thirty in the morning and talking about the night. amelia and amanda made their way back to the hotel while i hung out with rafer and jason for a little bit longer. i thanked them for being my friends and they both told me they are glad to have met me. by the time we got back to our hotel it was around 4:30am and everyone passed out. somehow i wasn't tired and i stayed up for another hour or so thinking about the night, about the four other people laying in the room with me, and how thankful i was to be in this magical place with people i truly love.
(the creepy girl behind rafer was definitely not a part of our group haha)the morning was probably one of my most favorite times of the whole trip. we all crawled into the queen bed and shared pictures and funny moments from the evening. we laughed and laughed and made plans for the few remaining hours we had left before i had to head to the airport. we all took turns showering and cleaning up and checked out right on the dot for our check out time. we were allowed to keep our car parked for a few more hours so set out on the town to look for some breakfast. we decided to eat at cafe camilla and my heavens it was one of the most delicious meals i have ever eaten. i got a spinach and cheese omelet with hash browns and even after stuffing my face i wasn't even able to eat all of it. i would honestly go back to new orleans just to eat breakfast at that cafe.
by the time we finished eating breakfast it was pouring down rain outside so we ran through the rain and took refuge in small stores lining the street. street musicians braved the weather and by the time it was only sprinkling handmade instruments, trumpets, and saxophones filled the air with their sweet melodies. i think my heart broke at the beauty. with a grey sky and blues music i think for the first time i realized where i truly was and i couldn't help but cry out of thankfulness. we ended finding an art gallery that was completely life changing. the art was so unique and so full of life that i spent twenty minutes staring at a painting on an old man. the life in his eyes, the pain behind the frown. it was breathtaking. amanda came in the little room i was standing in and that is when i started crying. it finally hit me that this trip was coming to an end and these people who had become my family were going to be hundred and thousands of miles away from me. she hugged me and we both cried standing in that art gallery. amelia came over and wiped away the tears from our cheeks and reminded us that it wasn't goodbye; it was see you later.
i spent the rest of the morning hugging on amanda and amelia as much as possible and praying that the time would stop and i could sit on a bench for a few hours with these wonderful people and have them tell their life stories. to know everything about them i never got to know and never have to worry about saying goodbye as i walked through the airport. but unfortunately time doesn't ever stop and in the moments we want to savor it, it seems to slip through our fingers too fast. before i knew it we were in the car again on our way to the airport. me and amanda hugged the whole way and when we got to the airport my chest tightened and i felt the tears welling up again.
amanda and amelia waited in line with me and helped me with my suitcases and before i knew it i was ready to go through security. it was time to say goodbye.
the three of us hugged each for a long time and i didn't hold back the tears any longer. amanda cried on my shoulder and we told each other how much we were going to miss each other. its strange that in five months someone can go from being a complete stranger to being your best friend. someone who knows only a fraction of your history somehow can know your heart so well. it was so hard saying goodbye to them but i know that its not forever. it's i'll see you soon.
even writing this now i started crying. because those two days in new orleans changed me in a way i don't think i could ever describe. all of the people we encountered were so nice. like they knew something about life that the rest of the world hasn't quite figured out yet. i let go of all of the burdens and insecurities ive been carrying all my life and have never felt so free. i danced under streamers, i hugged the people i love more times in two days than i did all the other months of our friendships, and i allowed my walls to be stripped away and to let my true self show. and the four wonderful people i got to share all this with will forever be in my heart. i love you amanda, amelia, jason, and rafer. thank you for being my friend and making my last two days down there the best days of my life. i'll never forget it.