Life Lessons I Didn't Expect to Learn in New Orleans

This trip to New Orleans was my third trip there, but it was different from the others in so many ways.  For one, I had never even heard of the Red Dress Run until recently and I got to experience it on this trip, and my last two trips were solo but this time I had the privilege of going with a longtime friend of mine.  Also, I had a borderline unbelievable experience with another one of my closest friends, and by the end of the trip I actually learned a lot, which is something I didn’t see coming.   I should have known better though, one of the things that I love about traveling is that it is always a new learning experience, it never goes exactly as planned.

I learned that vacation means something different to everyone

Nicole may just be the ideal person for me to travel with.  I have been traveling solo a lot, and it has become hard for me to travel with other people, but Nicole and I both get along great, we’re laid back, and both value spending time alone.  Being there with her made me realize that the way I like to vacation isn’t the same way everyone does, and that’s ok! When I go on a trip, I’m the person that almost needs another vacation to recover from my vacation. I do anything and EVERYTHING I can in the time that I have. Sleep? Sleep is for the weak as far as I'm concerned.  I stay up all night, sleep (more like nap), and then I have to get up because if I sleep too late by the time I get showered, dressed, and ready it is already 10am, and I might as well have wasted half the day.  In the morning it’s prime wander time, I get to find a breakfast café, walk around for a while until it’s time to find a unique coffee shop I’ll never find at home, have a coffee, charge my phone, write in my travel journal about what has happened so far, and get back out there.  Then I have the afternoon to see more things, and find more cool places that weren’t on my list.  I pretty much use up every minute I have available to me, unlike the lazy, not on vacation, version of myself back home.  Nicole on the other hand was looking forward to some time to explore and do things, but also the time to just kick back and relax.  We were there on a Thursday-Sunday and Friday afternoon and part of Saturday Nicole stayed back, she relaxed by the pool, and got the time to rest that she doesn’t get at home with her busy job.  At first I was worried she wouldn’t get to see everything, but then I realized for her that was more enjoyable than walking around for hours in New Orleans in the middle of August, which actually doesn’t sound awesome, but whatever, I liked it.  Nicole and I are both comfortable being by ourselves, so she wasn’t afraid to tell me she would hang back at the room, and I wasn’t afraid to say ok, well I’m going to go.  We spent a lot of time together, I got to show her a lot of cool things in New Orleans, and we both got important time alone doing what we wanted, I got my solo wandering sessions, and she got her poolside relaxing time.  Perfect travel partner.

Patience and forgiveness can save a friendship.

There is a very important person in my life that was in New Orleans for the same event as me, we will call him A.  When I say important person I’m talking about that person that you talk to 24/7 about anything and everything.  The friend that is so involved in your day-to-day routine that life would be really different and a lot less bright without them around.  To make a long and complicated story short, A and I got in a potentially friendship ending situation on this trip.  If you know me, you know that I am a pretty emotionally blank person and things don’t affect me too much, but almost losing this friendship was one of the most emotionally devastating things I have experienced.  Thursday and Friday were like an emotional rollercoaster, a term a have rarely ever had to use concerning myself.  On Friday night everything took a turn for the better when A agreed to see me and talk to me for the first time.  Which is a big deal, he lives in another state, so it’s not like I could have just talked to him when I got home.  Somehow we sat and talked for a very long time as if nothing had ever happened, it was shocking, exciting, and a total relief all at the same time.  I thought for sure I had lost him, but there he was across the table smiling as he listened to me ramble on about all the meaningless things that happened to me that day.  There was total and complete forgiveness there, he truly demonstrated the importance of “forgive and forget” as he put aside all the drama, and all the negativity of the past few days to save our friendship.  What could have been the day that ended it all became the day that turned our friendship into something 100 times more real than I thought it could ever be.  I’m not exactly sure what changed his mind, but I am sure that going through that showed me how important he is to me, and that if we can get through that, we will be friends for the years and years to come in our lives.  “When we long for life without difficulties, remind us that oaks grow strong in contrary winds and diamonds are made under pressure.” –Peter Marshall

I had my favorite conversation sitting at this table at Cafe Beignet just before they closed on a Friday night.

I had my favorite conversation sitting at this table at Cafe Beignet just before they closed on a Friday night.

For every terrible person out there you can find another one who is 10x better.

I’ve been to New Orleans three times now, and the third was the time I finally had my wallet stolen.  Was it the end of the world? No. Was it really inconvenient and a huge bummer? Yes.  My wallet was stolen my last night there, once I realized it was gone I reported it missing to my bank, and was going to just order an Uber and head back to where I was staying.  With my luck, just as that happened it started to thunderstorm and the Uber rates were three times as expensive.  I could’ve called one anyways, but being as stubborn as I am I refused to pay $35 to go a couple miles down the street, and I wasn’t going to walk those two miles by myself in the dark and the rain.  I sat on the curb under and awning so I wouldn’t get wet and waited for the storm to pass along with that Uber surge.  The rain died down, but the surge did not so I decided to walk around even though I couldn’t go inside anywhere without my ID.  I walked passed The Absinthe House where I had been the night before and one of the security guys I had talked to saw me walking and called me over to say hi and asked me about the red dress run earlier that day.  I told him about what happened and he showed me so much kindness that night and really helped me out.  He invited me inside, he brought me to an empty table by an outlet to charge my phone, and he gave me something to eat and drink.  He told me I could stay as long as I needed to, and when he could he sat down and talked to me.  He didn’t just make small talk, he didn’t ask me for my phone number, he just talked to me like a friend and made me feel comfortable.  He made something that was really frustrating not so bad.  If everyone were more like Nick the security guy at The Absinthe House the world would be a better place.

I expected to learn things like the most practical red dress to wear, or how to deal with the August heat in New Orleans, maybe where to get the best Po Boy sandwich, or even something I didn’t know about practical airport travel, but I definitely didn’t expect to learn so much about people and friendships.  Life is all about the unexpected though, and I had a great time.  This trip was probably one of the most unique and spontaneous trips I’ve ever had, and I wouldn’t change anything about it.