Back in April, I fell in love with someone new. Shocker of all shockers...SHE was everything I never knew I was missing. She had character traits that I didn't even realize I was looking for until I met her in person. She has a bad reputation and some might call her a "sinner" or a "slut". In fact, sometimes this is a little part of her charm. But I was somehow able to see past all that superficial junk and couldn't help but be struck by her heart...which was nothing short of stunning. I can't say I could ever see myself making a lifetime commitment to her or even hanging out with her for longer than a few weeks at a time. Don't get me wrong, she's awesome. But, with so much personality...I just can't quite keep up with her lifestyle year round. She's not a "settle down" type...at least not for me. She's like nothing you have ever seen, completely unique and all her own...her name is New Orleans.
Scott and I had the chance to visit The Big Easy in April, when we traveled down to the city with the Bleeding Heartland Roller Girls for an Away Bout. I really didn't know what to expect. Quite honestly, I figured I'd feel out of place. I mean, I'm not a HUGE drinker and I'm not really into voodoo or anything like that and I really was of the opinion that I didn't like cajun food and, well, that's New Orleans, right? Well, this trip was so great for me because I learned a few things:
a) I have never had cajun food (not real cajun food) and, guess what? I do like it! I even ate alligator! And it was delicious!
b) The bars are fun. You could go to, like, 10 in one night if you want to and you don't have to drink any alcohol at all to enjoy the entertaining drunk people doing crazy, outlandish things at 2am.
c) There's a lot more stuff in the Quarter than bars and voodoo shops. LOTS more! So much, in fact, that we are hoping to try to make a visit down to New Orleans a regular thing (if not yearly...at least every other year). We are in LOVE. With the art, the atmosphere, the food, the culture, the architecture, the music and street performances, the people.
We met a friend there named Ginger. Her brother owns a cajun restaurant in Indianapolis and is a very big supporter of the Naptown Roller Girls (shout out, Papa Roux!!!!) Ginger had never met us (in fact, Papa Roux has never met us in real life...just on FB) and she became our New Orleans tour guide while we were down there. She took the time out of her busy life to take us everywhere we wanted to go. Then, she attended the bout with us and rooted against her own team for our ladies! By the time we said good-bye to her (after only spending one day with her), we were hugging and I was genuinely sad to see her go. It was literally like we were family.
If I could add to this the fact that the Big Easy Roller Girls treated us like no other Away Team has ever treated us. The night we arrived, they invited us to someone's house, where they had all cooked the most INCREDIBLY AMAZING New Orleans meal for us. There was SO much food. They were so kind and hospitable. And, when I told Ginger about it, she was not surprised. She just said, "Enjoy the Southern hospitality!" We met a lot of people down there that had that same spirit of kindness and, I guess I would call it...instant family. We just don't have that here in Indiana...or at least in Bloomington.
That brings me to the reason for this blog post. Heheh, yeah...I haven't even started yet!
So, the other day, I forgot my keys at home. Scott was supposed to bring them to me, but he forgot. So, when 5:00 rolled around and I realized that my car keys were in my husband's pocket all the way across campus in a class that would not be over until 7pm, I decided to walk around until I found a place that sounded good for dinner and just wait for him. I walked and walked and nothing sounded good. Eventually, I walked so far that my choice was limited to Irish Lion or Crazy Horse. So, I went to Crazy Horse and, it being a gorgeous day, I sat at a table outside, ordered a cocktail and started reading my book. It was great!
A bit later, a woman and her little boy sat right behind me. I was sort of eavesdropping on them because they were really adorable (and were apparently waiting for Dad to show up), but pretended to be intently reading, when the Mom instructed her son to ask what I was reading. Well, this began a conversation about books and her adorable son and my own kids, etc. It was definitely not one of those two sentence exchanges where both people go back to what they were doing. I could tell this woman wanted to keep engaging me in conversation. Honestly, I thought it was a bit weird...I mean, how many people actually just start a real conversation with a stranger?
Well, a few minutes later, Dad shows up. His wife introduces me to him and he just starts talking like we've known each other forever. Finally, I get a back story. This family moved here a month ago and have no friends yet. They both work as chefs in high end restaurants in town and their boy (4 yrs old) is starting pre-school soon. They are both from New Orleans. The little guy speaks fluent English and Creole (which they demonstrated for me and it was COOL). Listen...these folks were a little "rough around the edges", if you will. I don't know that I ever would have made the first move to talk to them...but they were kind enough to reach out to me and I am better for it. They are wonderful people. Even so, I caught myself every once in awhile checking around us to make sure we weren't "disturbing" the other diners because we were talking pretty loud and in an exaggerated manner...and there were some crude words flying. Then, I thought, "Who cares what people think? We're starting a friendship here and we are outside...so if we're too loud, they can just deal with it. And, if they are judging the quality of us as human beings, well...they're just assholes."
When my husband picked me up, I actually had to pull myself away. The little boy said good-bye to me in Creole and hugged me. His mom hugged me and told me it was such a pleasure to meet me. We had already exchanged personal information (phone and e-mail). And her hubby flashed me the peace sign. It was just like when I left Ginger in New Orleans back in April...like I was leaving someone that I was tied to in heart...that I had just met.
And, then I was overwhelmed and thought, "Man! What if I would have remembered my keys this morning?!"