Laissez Les Bons Temps Rouler

Living in New Orleans can be a bit of a vacation for life.

I once said when I moved to Louisiana that I have never been in a place where I can literally drink rum all day AND get everything I need accomplished.

NOLA exemplifies that life.  I literally have to restrain myself until afternoon from getting a drink.  It’s honestly always available. And there always seems to be some celebration to, well, celebrate.

One could argue that moving to New Orleans right when carnival (Mardi Gras) season was starting gives me a false sense of the nature of the city. 

 But I disagree. 

 I think that NOLA prides itself on being a fun party destination.  All year long.  It prides itself on being a place where you can leave your inhibitions on the shores of Lake Ponchatrain  and laissez les bons temps rouler (let the good times roll).  Why else would it be known as The Big Easy?

There’s something magical about this place.

Like Las Vegas, it’s the type of place that invites the thought process that what happens here, stays here. It’s a place that invites you to explore all you want and forgives you for whatever that exploration may look like (within limits y’all- I’m not talking  excessively depraved stuff here)

I say all this to say that NOLA would have been the dream domicile of my youth when I was wild and crazy.  But in my adult years, it pulls me in a way that I have never thought imaginable.  

Being here has shown me freedom.  Freedom from having to deal with the everyday grind of life.  It is a place where I can be carefree.  Where, even though I think I  am old, I can be young and wild and free.  I work a casual job that is pretty much thoughtless.  My only responsibilities are to me. But with freedom comes a cost.  

My family.  I am a mom.  I have been a wife for 18 years.  For almost half of my life, I have centered my life around being a dedicated wife and mother.  There were never any thoughts of what i wanted. This is truly what it means to be stuck in the middle.

Going back to Elton, I am isolated – geographically and socially.  Here I can walk everywhere.  I am always only a block away from people and things that stimulate my mind.  In Elton, I am alone most of the day, but I get to see my kids play basketball and talk to them about their day.

  In NOLA, I can order any type of food and have it delivered to my door.  In Elton, I have to drive at least 30 minutes just for a grocery store.  The food choices are limited.

So I struggle with these feelings.  

I struggle with feeling happiness at the expense of being away from my children. My responsibilities.

I struggle with feeling that I am just like my birth mother who walked away from the responsibility of being my mother.

I struggle with the feeling that there I am nothing but a person to clean house and keep schedules.  I don’t contribute to the house.  I don’t make any money.

Here in NOLA, I contribute. I send money home for bills and I help them get the things they need, but I’m not there.

What is more important? Stuff or presence?

Honestly- both.  And to say otherwisewould be  burying  your head in the sand and not acknowledging reality.  Teenagers needs things.

Graduation cap and gowns cost $100. Prom dresses cost at least $200.  Basketball shoes cost $100+. To ignore that my kids need these things is ignoring their wants and needs and shirking my responsibilities as a parent.

So I’m stuck.  I’m stuck in this place where I literally cannot be present with them to provide them what they need.   But that’s another story and another blog post.  This one is about NOLA.

My kids came down for Mardi Gras and we had a blast.  I truly love this city.

We are having a blast.

This weekend is my birthday weekend and there’s a big party in the Quarter celebrating St.Patty’s Day and St. Joseph’s Day.  The two saints days that flank my birthday. And two saints that represent the white parts of my life- Irish for my adoptive family and Italian for part of my biological DNA. So I’ll be out celebrating again.

Because N’awlins gets you like that.  Why not celebrate?  Seriously, why not?!!! 

One thing that life has shown me that is that I can do absolutely everything right and I will still be blindsided by things that will case major despair.  

So why not celebrate life- as much as you possibly can?

New Orleans has taught me to let go of all all my preconceived notions of what I am supposed to be and to just live.

So I remain stuck in the middle.  Between worlds.  I am starting to think that’s what written in the stars for me.

To be forever stuck in the middle.

About sjwoods318

Mother of six children - five girls and one boy; wife; community organizer, family chauffeur, philosopher, trans-racial adoptee, Deadhead, person of mixed racial heritage, artist, poet, writer who loves to swim, read, and run around with my family.
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