"You have to do me the biggest favor," my friend Mike said. "Come to New Orleans June 24th. I'm having an engagement party and it's important."
I thought up a million reasons why I shouldn't: the absurd cost of plane tickets, I knew we couldn't afford to go as a family, I had never left my babies before, I hadn't flown for five years (and never by myself), I get a little claustrophobic, the absurd cost of plane tickets. The absurd cost of plane tickets!!
I wasn't sure what to do.
But New Orleans is my favorite place in the world and I miss it every day. I hadn't visited in so long. This was important after all, and if you're lucky enough to find real people in your life that you genuinely care about, you need to treat them as such.
Troy gets to travel with work fairly often while I stay home, and as the mama, I'm really OK with it. He looked at me and said, "You have to go; you need the break."
So, naturally, I booked my ticket immediately. I went and got to be with a bunch of people that I talk to every day, but never see, and proceeded to have the time of my life.
Mike came to get me at the airport and we went record shopping and out for shrimp Po Boys and drank Jameson for the afternoon on Bourbon Street.
My friend Katie let me stay with her in her tiny, low-ceilinged apartment on a tree lined street near Uptown. She introduced me to some of the sweetest people I ever met and we learned that eating gumbo in hot weather raises your internal body temperature by 15° and you almost pass out.
I had my first snowball (chocolate with condensed milk on top) and had drinks with Goody and Michy and Candice. I finally got to meet Lette and Garrett and Tiff and Rachel and Kara and Dre and Allen and Neeky and Nelly. I went to local/non-touristy places and heard first-hand how a New Orleanian says, "baby." (For those that don't know, it comes out more like "baybeh" and I wasn't at all prepared.)
I drank whiskey for dinner and slept in and had no set schedule. Do you even know what that's like?!? Because, honestly, I forgot.
And guess what, turns out Mike and Cassie got married at that engagement party! Surprise! So needless to say, I'm extra glad that I found my courage and was brave enough to go. Sometimes, it's important to push yourself to do things that you deserve; to give yourself a break and do something just for you.
I got told I was an honorary New Orleanian that week, and I truly felt like one.
I was glad to get back home to my babies, but I'm so grateful for New Orleans and her people - I think they love me almost as much as I love them.