I’m coming upon my two-year anniversary of living in New Orleans, though it doesn’t seem quite that long. The first year flew by with surprises at every corner. I had no idea what to expect. The second year was a little more laid back. I had a better grasp of things. I knew how to peel crawfish, I knew that Mardi Gras was much more than just a parade and I knew what "lagniappe" was.
This time of year has become bittersweet for me. It reminds me that I moved away from my hometown and that everything has changed. But it also reminds me that you’ll never know what you’re capable of unless you take chances.
4th of July weekend two years ago was my last weekend in Columbus, Ohio. After the Independence Day festivities, I packed up my little car with the stuff that was dearest to me and headed south.
Within a few weeks I’d fall in love with my new neighborhood, meet new friends (who are like family now) and meet the man that I’ll be marrying.
It definitely wasn’t easy, but it was worth it. And here are a few of the things that I’ve learned so far:
1. People will come in and out of your life. Enjoy them while you have them. Appreciate them.
These were my close friends two years ago. At the time, I couldn’t imagine not hanging out with them every week.
And we’ve all moved away from Ohio, or are about to. One is a professor in Washington, one is finishing up school in London, another moved to Chicago to earn a Master’s Degree and the last has joined the Peace Corp. I miss them, but we enjoyed our time together, and they will be life-long friends–even if we never live in the same city again.
These are my close friends now.
They’re the most amazing people. I’m blessed to know them, and I can’t imagine not hanging out with them every week. Still, I know we won’t always be living in the same place , so I try to appreciate them while I have them in my life, to live in the moment.
2. Celebrate the cyclical nature of things.
One of the best things about living in New Orleans is that there is always something about to happen. There is always a celebration on the horizon, from Mardi Gras to Jazz Fest to crustaceans. Everything has its season, and you’re always glad when it comes back around.
3. Pace yourself.
When I first moved here I was enamored with the nightlife. I became overwhelmed with the amount of things to do every day and every week. I learned that I couldn’t do it all–replacing sleep with partying was going to age me prematurely. I learned that it’s okay to stay in and watch the Golden Girls every once in awhile.
Living here has taught me to chill out, because sometimes, there’s nothing else I can do. Things have their own rhythms here. I learned that going to the grocery store is an event and that I’ll never get in and out in minutes like I could back home. I learned that every once in awhile I’d go through a McDonald’s drive-thru and they’d tell me they were out of hamburgers (I’m not kidding), so I just had to learn to relax and always have a plan B. And sometimes a plan C.
5. Seize the day.
Two years ago, I looked at my life and thought, "it’s now or never." I’m so glad that I opted for "now." It led me to finding amazing people, work that I love and ideas for the future. It led me to my lovely neighborhood and my cozy house. It led me to the love of my life.
Things are constantly changing. I figured that, if I couldn’t go along with the flow of things, then I wouldn’t be really living. I’d just be stuck on auto-pilot. Living life by default.
I decided to go for it. And I urge anyone who might want to try something different to do it. It doesn’t have to be radical. Start a blog, write a book, sign up for a 10K, watch all the seasons of The Wire, whatever… if you can think it, you can do it. One thing can lead to another until you look around and you’ve accomplished something.
Somehow I managed to move to New Orleans and I love it. I’ve grown accustomed to the rhythms of my new city, even if in the grand scheme of things, I’m still just a "tourist". And I’m proud to call it home. And I look forward to year three and keeping the momentum going.
Read more of Annie at www.anniedeladolce.com.