Renowned writers have long explored the decadence and idiosyncrasy of the Big Easy. I won’t try to compete with decades of great prose and poetry, but will offer my list of personal transformations since falling in love with the city New Orleans. Here are ten ways that the Crescent City changed the life of this native northern Californian:
1. Appreciation of Jazz and its history. I may not understand it, but I like Jazz — especially if brass and young people are involved.
2. Now prominent in my living room bar is a bottle of artisan-distilled Rye whiskey. My rye love started with the Sazerac Cocktail. If you have not experienced a Sazerac, get thee to New Orleans!
3. I am now staunchly spoiled when it comes to wait-staff hospitality, and am exceedingly impatient with what I now call “California-style indifference” in any restaurant.
4. Consider myself a foodie. Thanks to an extroverted couple from San Diego— who were also lost waiting for a streetcar at Riverwalk, we discovered a sampling of New Orleans favorites— like Casamento’s and August— on our first visit. Now I am a shameless food follower and have even been called a great ambassador by local chowhounds.
5. Addicted to accumulating airline and hotel miles and points. Since my darling daughter now lives in New Orleans, I have a great excuse to travel. Deep discounts and free nights make it much more fun.
6. Cocktails. Thanks to a hint from the locals, I don’t even look at a food menu until I’ve ordered a cocktail!
7. Sundresses. I think they are a must in the summer, but the sundress becomes more appealing for a middle-aged women when a charming young man, walking an Uptown neighborhood street, says: “That dress is perfect for today!”
8. Da Track. The thought of spending Thanksgiving day at the horse races would have upset my life balance before NOLA. Da Track is a New Orleans tradition: a spicy mix of old timers and young hipsters coming together in their best hats and finery on Thanksgiving afternoon. Looks like I will be there for 2013, too.
9. Hurricane alerts. My daughter may be composed during storm warnings, but her worried mother is on Twitter, Hurricane watch, Weather Channel and the NOAA website at any inkling of Gulf storms.
10. Joie de vivre. I enjoy the pleasures in life more passionately knowing that in our vast nation there is a place as magical and unique as the City of New Orleans.
To my new friends in New Orleans, to my dear daughter who may never leave, and to all the friends I hope to meet on my journeys, I share some BB King:
“I don’t care if you’re young or old
Get together, let the good times roll.”