Even today, I can close my eyes and instantly be back on the banks of the Mississippi.
The wind blowing through my hair, caressing my face -- I'll never forget that summer.
Needing a break from a job that I had grown to loathe, my mom suggested that I go to New
Orleans with her and Dad. Reluctant to force myself into a typical "family vacation",
I first said "No thanks". She insisted, and I eventually gave in.
I flew out of Birmingham physically ill with my usual allergy symptoms. My job literally
made me sick. It seemed that I was allergic to the glue in the new carpet on our floor.
That, plus the compounding stress mounting on me, day after day, had taken its toll.
I had two options: take a much needed vacation and actually get away from everything and
everybody, or pick out a tower and a nice rifle. (My supervisor didn't find that too
Anyways, back to NOLA (New Orleans, Louisiana). I arrived, sniffing and sneezing the whole way.
The weather down there was no different from Birmingham's -- maybe a little hotter -- but I began
to immediately feel better. Maybe it was the humidity from being on the water, or
maybe it was me finally beginning to relax.
My vacation was care-free and delightful. Mother and I would shop and visit the various places around
the Riverwalk, and Dad would spend his time relaxing with a game (usually baseball) on TV.
I visited the Aquarium of the Americas, among several other "touristy" places, including the
New Orleans Historic Voodoo Museum. Sitting out on the patio at Pat O'Brien's quickly
became a part of my daily routine. Mother and I would sip cocktails, gaze at the lovely
surroundings, and inquire with any passerby carrying a drink we hadn't yet tried. (Pat O's
is known for its lengthy cocktail list. Although some are a bit pricy, I found them all
well worth the cost!)
Every afternoon, near dusk, I'd walk past the Riverwalk and gaze out onto the Mississippi River.
Even now, I can remember the wind on my face, and how free I had felt. I never wanted
to leave. (I was even considering a move to NOLA). But alas, like all good things, my
vacation came to an end ... ending seemingly as quickly as it had begun.
On the day I left, I found myself thinking of the job and other worries awaiting me at home ...
I became sick once more.
I've been to NOLA several times, and it seems each visit is more magical than the previous.
New Orleans holds a special place in my heart, and still remains one of my favorite escapes.
Last summer, I watched a documentary on television about the Mississippi River. It's said
that New Orleans is literally a sinking city, each year falling farther below sea level and below
the river level. Scientists estimate that within ten years, New Orleans will be washed over
by the Mississippi in a flood, and will be lost forever.
I hope that never happens, but if it ever does, I'd be happy to live with the memories I carry
with me in my heart, forever.
To NOLA, with love -- thanks.