As some or none of you may know, I recently went to New Orleans to celebrate the wedding of a dear friend. The Husband, acting as the best man, planned his time with his friend and I was left on my lonesome for three days to explore New Orleans.
Lonesome my ass.
I was thrilled.
I love traveling with my husband, yet never in my life have I had the chance to explore a city on my own time. Now don’t get me wrong, I am a woman. I am a fierce, independent creature who isn’t afraid to read at the dinner table and speak up for myself and leave the toilet seat up; but I’ve never had the opportunity to be alone in a “traveling” situation in a foreign city (if that makes sense).
Sure, I stay at home plenty of times watching horror movies in my underwear, but nothing like this.
It was a giddy, curl-your-toes feeling, and despite a teeny tiny bit of apprehension I embraced it with the same kind of enthusiasm as Gary Busey threatening to “pull your endocrine system out of your body”. I was wide-eyed and crazy-haired.
Time was all mine.
I didn’t have that intense “I-have-to-hurry” feeling one has when you’re engrossed in one of your odd hobbies your companion/significant other /stalker couldn’t care less about (ahem, ghost hunting, anyone?). I made the French Quarter my pet. I sat on a curb for an hour, drinking Chicory Coffee and watching the best band to sing some New Orleans Jazz. I spent hours in bookstores and voodoo shops.
I travel solo so photos like this exist.
And I learned a few things about myself.
1. I could make friends with strangers.
How I like to greet people.
While in New Orleans, I conversed with two sweet World War II veterans; met a girl on the street (no, not that kind of girl) – a perfect stranger who was alone as well – and ended up having coffee and beignets together at Café Du Monde; met a woman from New York City on my ghost tour and ended up getting a hug and phone number at the end of night; befriended and took a photo with a delicious hippie who sang in a freewheeling street jazz band.
I have my doubts about which one is the grungy hippie.
And hell, if that isn’t a mouthful I don’t know what is.
2. Who needs ménage a trios when you got ménage a solo?
I ate pretty much every meal alone. And I damn well enjoyed it. Now please make note that I’ve never been afraid to do this, and not counting the dorm cafeteria and lunchrooms in junior high and lunches ate in my car during my summer job (don’t ask), I’ve never dined at a real restaurant before.
I ate po’boys and fried oysters and jambalaya and muffuletta. ALL. BY. MYSELF.
Even James Vanderbeek cries when I dine alone.
And the daiquiris. Sweet baby, J, the daiquiris.
Let me tell you – anyone who has never been to New Orleans before – they have an open container policy.
Yes. Yes, you heard me right. Let it sink in, people.
During my treks down to the French Quarter and Bourbon Street I would randomly pop into a Daiquiri and Dreams shop (My own name, ahem, potential investors [I like to imagine Tom Cruise working one of these stands]) and order one large Ragin’ Cajun to go, please. Then I’d saunter off down Bourbon Street on my merry way.
So, I guess the point of this, is that daiquiris all aside, eating alone has made me an empowered baller.
3. Well, just call me mother-fucken-Magellan.
The decision was not an easy one.
I realized I could actually follow a map. Now, folding it up is another thing altogether…
I successfully navigated myself around New Orleans and was proud to notice that I knew exactly where to go without asking anyone. By the end of the trip, I could have been a tour guide.
4. I could do this again. And I will.
The sheer empowering joy I got while pounding the pavement in New Orleans was enough to tell me to take a SOLOGIRLSVACATION every so often.
It’s really amazing what you can do on your own – even though I knew I could, and I had no fear – actually experiencing it was really a huh moment.
I urge you all to visit New Orleans in all of its delicious sleaze and glory. And man or (especially) woman, I urge you to get out on your own for a day…or even three. It’s empowering. It’s fun.
It’s good for the soul. And the ego.
And now watch, Hipsters and Creoles Dance in Perfect Harmony.