Last week I completed the first thing off my “new lease” list. I went to New Orleans. I’d never been to New Orleans before and as a lover of food and fun it had always appealed to me. I was not disappointed. For three days I ate nonstop. The sights and sounds of New Orleans were everything I thought they would be, and to say that my clothes were a bit tight on the way home is not a stretch. I think I’ve gained a full ten pounds, but it was worth it. I wasn’t sure that I would learn anything profound during my time in New Orleans. People go there all the time and come back the same. Why would I be any different? Especially since my desire to go was to eat the food and soak in all that culture. I was afraid that my first step in taking my sister on a journey would not reveal anything other than what I afraid of: I hadn’t really changed.
But around Thursday evening, after the Paramore concert, which was amazing by the way. I watched a young woman climb onto that stage with the band and belt out ‘Misery Business’ with abandon and I was enthralled. She wasn’t worried with what others thought of her, she was living in the now and soaking up every second of it. Not willing to waste any bit of it. She could have just stood there and held her microphone and just sung the song, but she did more than that, she performed it. We all went crazy as we watched her. She stepped out and took that moment. She didn’t wait on it. Then it struck me. Before all of this that is exactly what I had been doing. I had been waiting. Why? What in the world did I think was going to happen? I’m in my thirties and I’m pretty sure things would have just continued the way they had been if I’d never had a tumor. It was a wake up call. No one wants a tumor, but I’m grateful for mine.
I’d still be waiting for my life to start otherwise.
Once I realized what I had stupidly been doing to myself I decided that along with my list I would try to do things outside of my comfort zone. The very next day we sat next to a lovely group of Israelis who were on a cross country tour of America. I struck up a conversation with them and we talked throughout our meal. It was wonderful. I didn’t do things like that. I avoided eye contact with people I didn’t know in restaurants and hated being sat so close to those I didn’t know, but this time I tried something different. It was so worth it. I learned things I didn’t know. I even imparted a little bit of knowledge too.
After our meal we walked around more and found ourselves on the square where some musicians were playing. I loved it. I could have listened to them all day, and I did something even more out of character. I walked up to them and asked them if I could take my picture with them? I just have to say that everyone that I encountered in New Orleans was super friendly, but these men took it a step further. They made room for me on their bench, gathered around, and fully embraced me. Like I was apart of them. I wanted Carrie to be apart of this experience, so I dumbly took out the picture of her that I had been carrying around all day and started talking about her. Sharing my sister with them. Then I started bawling like an idiot. With snot and tears dribbling down my face we snapped a few pictures. I was embarrassed that I’d cried, but I wanted to leave a piece of her there. I wanted someone new to know who she was, know that she was beautiful and kind. Even if it’s just in a story that they’ll tell someone else. My sister is not in the past tense. I took my sister to New Orleans and introduced her the Free Spirit Brass Band, and they were gracious and warm.
So, New Orleans was wonderful. I did learn something. I stretched myself a bit, and I’ll never forget it.
New Lease on Life List: New Orleans 10/10