Life, Travel

Until Next Time, New Orleans

The time has come. The boxes are being packed and filled. The stacks of giveaway, sell and keep are being curated.

It’s another adventure prefaced by a painful goodbye.

It’s not like this isn’t something I’m used to. I do this all the time: never staying too long, never getting comfortable. While not necessarily a deliberate choice, uprooting myself is the result of never wanting to settle for just “okay.” I never want to be just content. The persistent movement has created carefully crafted circles of confidants, a craving for constant new experiences, and a complex that renders me incapable true permanence. It’s given me a lifetime of memories in just a few short years, but also a big ol’ bag of painful goodbyes, tearful departing drives and, yeah, even some doubts about my decisions.

The pattern is simple: I find a place that calls me, I answer the call and then follow “the work.” Oftentimes, the work doesn’t align with my desires, relationships or attempted plans. In fact, the calls usually operate in spite of my attempts at a normal life.

Although hard on the heartstrings, I trust that these revisions reflect refined ambition and streamlined blueprints for my life. I’m a firm believer in self-determined kismet (essentially the idea that “fate” operates only insofar as you answer the call and do the work), and so to see opportunities arrive assiduously, yet somehow simply let’s me know that, while doubt still lingers, my choices are being rewarded.

Three years ago, I came to New Orleans armed with nothing but an idling dream and a wealth of city “knowledge” courtesy of Google. I thought I would find a quick reprieve from the Midwestern winters and weary Ohio routine. Instead, I found more than that – I found a home.

New Orleans is hard to love, but it taught me how to be resilient and unyielding. It taught me patience — but not from behind the wheel — and fortitude. It taught me that even in the most unexpected places and under impossible circumstances, people can move mountains.

Those who know me know it has been a godsend, an absolute saving grace, escape and refuge. I came to this city a totally different girl. I came running: away from many somethings and towards unknown anythings. I actively ached for an opportunity to start new and find myself in a place where even I didn’t know who I’d be. New Orleans saved me from myself and the ever-present toxic cloud that surrounded me as a result of this that and the other. Through love, patience and continued healing, that cloud dissipated.

It seems strange to suggest that a city could invoke so much on someone, but I promise you it’s true. I’ve never felt so at home, both geographically and with myself. I don’t have a face I have to keep, or a game I have to play.

To leave New Orleans means to leave a city that has given me freedom and rooted me to the only home that lets me abandon it time and time again, but still continues to welcome me back with open arms. This place has been the only true home I’ve found in six years. To leave it means to abandon the place that rebuilt and restored me.

But still, the pain that comes from leaving a place that feels so deeply rooted is, in and of itself, an experience worth celebrating and growing from. While seemingly destructive, the destabilizing force that comes from abandoning familiarity is the chaos required to evolve.  The vulnerability that I feel now, from leaving a place that has come to mean so much to me, is the only thing that will keep complacency at bay.

For me, this home has been a force of life and energy so strong that it’s propelled me to the height of my ambition. It gave me the confidence and power to say yes, fearlessly.

From New Orleans came a strength that allowed me to say yes to a million opportunities that I never thought I would be afforded.

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