Mar 19, 201012:00 AM
Living, loving, laughing, and learning in the new New Orleans
Living My Dream
In my long-term goals, streetcars have replaced subways, and I couldn't be happier.
The Princess and the Frog came out on DVD on Tuesday, and I’ve seen it something like 8 million times since then. “I love Tiana,” my daughter declares repeatedly. “She lives in New Orleans like me.”
I fought against Disney princesses for a long time. When Ruby was about 18 months, she needed new sheets for her “big girl bed.” All they had at Target was Disney princess bedding, so that’s what I bought, but then I had some naïve crisis of conscience or misplaced burst of feminism or something. I hid the sheets on a high shelf in the closet and ordered polka-dotted bedding off of the Internet instead. We found the Disney princess sheets last weekend, and of course Ruby was delighted, and of course she can now recognize Cinderella and Belle and Snow White and Sleeping Beauty.
Back when I bought the sheets, I was enough of a new mom that I still had ideals. Now my only thought was: “Yay, more sheets! One fewer load of laundry!”
When I put Ruby to bed in her princess sheets for the first time, she burrowed under the sheet and blanket and sighed happily, “Mama, I’m covered up in princesses!”
All that matters is her happiness, and I feel kind of silly for wasting so much time worrying about stuff that ultimately doesn’t matter.
As I’ve stated before, even in my staunch anti-Disney-princess mom phase, I think I would probably have been OK with Tiana. Tiana is not waiting for her prince to come. Tiana can TCB on her own, has a dream and doesn’t need Jiminy Cricket to keep her focused.
I identified with Tiana’s driven personality in a lot of ways. I’ve known I wanted to work in journalism since I was 12, and I’ve never wavered. I worked on my high school paper starting freshman year, edited it my senior year and only applied to colleges with good journalism schools. Then I kind of took a strange turn and decided to stick around a get a master’s degree while all of my friends and peers from J-school started getting fancy jobs in New York City. For a while, I would seethe for days when I heard someone I knew had gotten a job at Newsweek (hi, Adam) or Real Simple (hi, Erynn) or Men’s Health (hi, Tim). I’d be happy for them, but that happiness was tempered by white-hot envy. In the grocery store checkout lines, I wouldn’t read celebrity gossip; I’d scan mastheads for familiar names and then sulk for days about why I was still in mid-Missouri.
But when I made up my mind to come home to New Orleans, suddenly that all stopped. Either I grew up or I was more at peace or both, but once I was happier with where I was, I was able to be happy for other people instead of just being jealous. When Lilith Dorko, our editorial assistant, accepted a position at House Beautiful last week, I was thrilled for her, but quite honestly, not the least bit envious. And then I sort of stepped back and thought, “Wait, is this what maturity feels like? Or have I gotten complacent?”
When you watch a movie approximately 8 million times in a three-day span, you start to notice things you didn’t notice before, and one line in the signature song “Almost There” from The Princess and the Frog keeps jumping out at me: “This old town can slow you down/People taking the easy way ….”
I wonder sometimes if I’ve let that happen, if I should be more ambitious, if I’ve let the warm weather and the drive-through daiquiris and the easy-going culture of this city drag me down when I should be working to claw my way up.
But it doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter because I love being here, being home, being warm and well-fed. I know New York is a magical wonderful place, and I want all of my friends there –– hell, even my enemies and rivals; that’s how mature I’ve gotten –– to be happy and successful. But I don’t want that for myself anymore.
I want iced coffee in January and crawfish boils in April and snowballs in August. I want my daughter screaming, “Throw me something, mister!” I want my husband laughing at spring breakers who can’t pronounce “Tchoupitoulas.”
My thoughts on what I should want or what I want to want or what I used to want are about as valid as trying to keep Ruby shielded from the joy that she gets from Disney princess sheets. Three years ago, Ruby couldn’t laugh, eat solid foods, roll over, pee on the potty, talk, sing, walk, dance or do much of anything besides cry.
I still think I’m the one who’s matured the most since then.
Good luck, Lilith! We’re going to miss you!