Every once in awhile, I'll get an email from a lovely person who is thinking about moving to New Orleans, and it always brightens my day to hear that someone likes what I've written about the city I love. Seriously, it gives me life. I get warm fuzzy feelings all over, because as any person who blogs knows, you'll never please everybody. I have been the naive Midwestern transplant at times, writing about New Orleans, and I've heard it all – from how I am what's wrong with this city to holy crap, what an idiot you are, you have horrible taste, etc.

It's cool, it comes with the blogging territory. If you ever need to develop a thicker skin, become a blogger. If it doesn't have you crying in the mirror and questioning your decisions in life, you're doing it wrong. And then you dust yourself off, feel your resolve get tougher and move on. Keep writing.

But for the most part, readers have been amazing and wonderful, and I love everyone who takes the time to read my blog, even the people who think I'm an idiot. I love you, man. You make me a better writer. But I digress.

The main thing I get asked about, is moving to New Orleans. Why did I do it. And am I happy with my decision to stay.

I find the first question more difficult to answer, because my desire to move here was something that was with me for many years before I actually found the guts to do it. The answer to the second question is yes, I am happy with my decision to stay. Every day. I miss my family and friends back home like you wouldn't believe, but this city has become a part of me. A part of my personality. I think that a person either "gets it" or they don't – and if you don't, you won't be happy here.

There is a rhythm that you must fall into, there are things that you must accept and if you can do that, you won't regret moving here. For example, you must accept that there will always be potholes and move on with your life. Accept that you should learn how to change a tire if you move to the city. Also, brake tags – no use in complaining about them. In New Orleans, there is death and taxes just like everywhere else, and also brake tags.

But there are also roast beef poor boys. It's a give and take.


Why I moved here, however, I started to really analyze the other day. What I came up with, to me, is a bit hilarious. Here is my progression.


1. New Orleans was first on my radar after reading Interview with the Vampire when I was a freshmen in high school. The imagery in the novel made me long to visit. A good friend of mine had read all the books and recommended them to me. Needless to say, I fell down the Anne Rice rabbit hole. She was probably the first author that I fangirled over.


2. My dad became obsessed with Cajun and Creole cuisine around the time I was a senior in high school. I take after my father in this way – if we really like something, it can become an obsession. It drove my mom crazy, but she always played along. For instance, somehow my dad became really interested in General George Armstrong Custer. I was in middle school. He read every book in existence about Custer. And then we took a family vacation out to where he died horrifically. A family vacay to The Battle of Little Bighorn Monument in Montana, as you do. Among rattle snakes. Not once, but twice. Two different years we did this. The second year, I think we also visited Deadwood South Dakota because of Wild Bill Hickok, but I'm getting away from myself. My point is that my dad has these geek moments. Anyway, he geeked out over Creole food, so we took a family trip to New Orleans. I was 18 years old.

The trip was only for a few days and we stayed within the confines of the French Quarter, but it was love at first sight. I was smitten. I vowed to return when I turned 21 and not in a family vacation capacity.

I also have to say that as a result, my father's obsession with Creole food has resulted in my favorite gumbo. My father, an Ohioan, makes better gumbo than most restaurants in this city, I swear to God.


3. My friend Mollee and I visited when we were both 22 years old. We came down over Labor Day, thinking it would be a nice long weekend. We happened upon Southern Decadence, and at the time, neither of us had ever seen anything like it. We'd also never had so much fun. We thought that it must be the most fun weekend out of the whole year in New Orleans, so we decided to keep coming back to Southern Decadence. What I didn't know at the time, was that there were many festivals and parades and crazy weekends in New Orleans – I was just young and from Ohio and didn't know any better.


4. We recruited other friends of ours for long weekends to New Orleans. Every visit made us more familiar with the city. We branched out to the Garden District. The Marigny. We would fantasize about moving here over hurricanes. We visited 5 months after Katrina, when Bourbon Street on a Friday night was a stark contrast to the year before – practically deserted.


5. One of my travel buddies moved to New Orleans for a job. I wanted to go with her, but I had too many ties to Ohio. A live-in boyfriend. A job. But I visited.


6. A year later, the economy took a nose-dive and the company I worked for was an unfortunate victim. I also went through a break-up. As far as break-ups go, it was one of the more amiable ones, but it left me with not so many ties to Ohio. I emailed my friend in New Orleans on a whim and asked her if she wanted a roommate. She emailed me back immediately with a Mary J. Blige playlist (for the break-up) and plans to look for a house. Best. Friend. Ever.


7. She found a house in the Bywater. I moved here with the conviction that I would stay for a year, if things didn't work out by then, I'd go back to Ohio. I met amazing friends. Fell in love with the neighborhood. Fell in love with new work, and met my husband. I'm not saying that there were not snags along the way, there were PLENTY OF SNAGS. I repeat, MANY SNAGS. It wasn't a fairy tale. But it was worth it.


So in a nutshell (and I can't deny it), why did I move here?

Anne Rice, Creole and Cajun cuisine, Southern Decadence, the awful economy, and a break-up.


Why did I stay?

I fell in love, in so many different ways.