Slowing Down to Rediscover
Recently, I had the chance to attend a magazine editors’ conference that was held in New Orleans. I had a blast debating the merits of Associated Press style versus Chicago style, getting really fired up about the former’s acceptance of “over” instead of “more than” and wearing my “Team Oxford Comma” shirt to wide acclaim.
But what I found the most delightful was pretending to be a tourist, seeing the city through the fresh eyes of newcomers. Go-cups? Amazing. The food? Incredible. The locals? Friendly, funny, charming, helpful. Mardi Gras beads? So much fun.
All too often, I get bogged down into, you know, real life – I’m cursing the pollen and the caterpillars instead of admiring the majestic oak trees; I’m tearing ass past beautiful historic homes without a second look because I’m late to work. So much of daily life is just a slog: Up early to shower, make breakfast, shake older child into her school pants as if she were a pillow and they were a pillowcase, clean up spilled orange juice, buckle younger child into car seat, scream at older child not to forget her lunchbox, go to work, eat a fast lunch with coworkers, work more, drive home in bumper-to-bumper traffic, eat dinner, fight over homework, bathe children, do laundry, do dishes, pick up toys, etc., etc., etc. There just isn’t much time left at the end of the day to indulge in so much as a glass of wine, let alone find time to properly admire the richness and beauty of the culturally distinctive city we’re lucky enough to call home.
As a friend of mine who lives in Washington, D.C., put it: “Yes, tourists, the cherry blossoms are lovely. Now get the eff out of my way; I have to get to work.”
Being at the conference forced me to slow down and appreciate how good we really have it here. The slog would be the same anywhere; the laundry would still need to be done even if I lived in Des Moines. But I need to try to stop letting the wonderful stuff about life here fade into the background.
After the Thursday conferences wrapped, all of the editors came together at a rooftop crawfish boil downtown. It was one of those perfect New Orleans evenings, humid but not hot, and we all sat around newspaper-lined tables peeling crawfish (or attempting to), eating spicy corn and drinking cold Abitas. I had brought Ruby along, and she was laying waste to a tray of crawfish, crushing and sucking the heads like the NOLA native she is.
“God,” sighed one woman from Minnesota, leaning back into the sunshine. “I don’t want to go home. Do I really have to go home?”
“You could just move here,” Ruby helpfully suggested around a mouthful of new potato.
“I just might,” the woman said and raised her beer to her lips. “I really just might have to do that.”
She certainly wouldn’t be the first.