Back in February, my boyfriend Seth and I took a trip unlike anything we had ever done before. Typically we are drawn to places with vast lands where you can always see the stars and be able to watch the sun rise and fall across the horizon. Instead of running to the desert for the weekend, we jumped on a plane and planted our feet in the Big Easy! Neither of us had ever been to this vibrant Louisiana city before so we were giddy to see and learn as much as we could.
The moment we stepped out of our cab in Jackson Square, the city’s energy hit us like a big wave. Everyone there was radiating excitement, they were ready to party, and have no inhibitions. The energy immediately soaked into our skin and down into our bones. The magic that is in New Orleans streets simply was contagious and made us feel so alive, wild and free.
No matter where we were in New Orleans there was a strong and very powerful energy that was present. You could feel it in the middle of the French Quarter, shopping on Magazine Street, exploring Treme and of course Bourbon Street. I loved how New Orleans accepts all people. It was beautiful to see others express themselves freely as their soul desires and be in a safe place without judgement.
New Orleans definitely beats to its own drum, but the beats those drum line drums creates, makes you want to dance!
The locals say that since the city and its cemeteries are together in one, the spirits of those who have passed are constantly surrounding you. It kind of is a reminder of our own inevitable mortality and the after life.
We stayed at the cutest AirBnb garden room in the neighborhood of Treme. It was the perfect size for two and had a wonderful host. The first day we walked from the French Quarter to our home which was about 2 miles, but the rest of the time we used Lyft. With the promotional discounts that company is always offering, plus a tip it was only a $7 cab ride from there to the French Quarter. Sure we would have loved to stay in the middle of all the action, but it saved us a ton of money to Airbnb it in a neighborhood right next door. Plus we got to experience where the locals lived!
(Have you used Airbnb before? I encourage you to sign up, take a look around the website because its not just homes and try the next time you travel! www.airbnb.com/c/klarkin40)
Saturday morning we rose early and beat the hungover crowd for breakfast! We stumbled upon a DELICIOUS cafe called The Ruby Slipper Cafe! We enjoyed our tasty breakfast on the outside patio and watched the city slowly wake up! This cute cafe was established after hurricane Katrina and the longing for its citizens to come back to their city because no one knew it better than Dorthy from the Wizzard of Oz who said “there is no place like home.”
That evening we got to participate in the kick off of the Mardi Gras celebrations with their first parade, Krew de Vieu which was a hysterical political parade only for adults. It was raunchy, ALL about Trump, sexual and full of drunk people having a good time. I am glad we were able to see this parade shortly after we elected a new president because the locals had a TON of material to work with! (Beware it is ALL sexual so you should go to this parade with an open mind.)
It was a blast standing in the streets collecting beads and trinkets from the floats, watching the older ladies flirt with my tall hunk of a man, and dancing to the beats from the soulful marching bands. We were completely immersed in the celebration and I would not have wanted to do it with anyone else by my side!
It felt wonderful to feel like an adult that Saturday night! We live our lives completely opposite of the way we embraced New Orleans and it felt great (at the time) to dance at a club, have a drink, stay up past 9:30, go to an adult parade and just have fun.
I felt lucky that I was strong enough to throw out all my rules that I have to live by each day that help keep me stabilized. For seven hours, I felt normal. I had a glimpse of the girl I use to be and it was liberating to dance, laugh and be utterly happy doing the unordinary with Seth. For that night I did not feel bound to my illnesses, instead I felt like Kirstin Larkin.
Like always, I pushed myself to my max taking full advantage of feeling well and going with the flow of the full stream of adrenaline that was coursing through my veins that late Saturday night on Bourbon Street. Sadly late nights, eating out too much, and expending too much energy always comes back around for collection and I was left that Sunday night in the airport completely departed of any energy.
When we arrived to the airport, I was on the brink of having a POTS episode and when I requested a wheelchair it never came…This was my first experience at an airport of a worker not being believing that I had disabilities. I was questioned if I truly needed a mobility aid and the worker never made the call to bring me a chair. This left me feeling very frustrated, upset, and sick.
Once we reached our gate, I was having a very difficult time keeping my head up. I was in and out of consciousness and I could feel my system rushing to ‘flight’ mode. My body desperately wanted to curl up in my comfy bed and lay in the quiet, but that is difficult to do when you are traveling. I was done. Checked out and aching to be back home, but we still had several more hours to go before that could happen.
Even though I used up all of my energy and had an episode in the airport, I would not have done New Orleans any differently. I was extremely proud of myself for doing so much on this trip. It was the most active I had been in a VERY long time! I was impressed on my physical strength and my ability to not only walk about five miles each day, but also carry my own pack (whoa!) and boogie down Bourbon Street! This trip was an obvious sign that I am getting stronger and my symptoms are not as frequent. New Orleans gave me hope that with more hard work, one day I will be able to travel overseas and accomplish more difficult trips that are on my bucket list!
This weekend getaway ended up being a very special journey for both Seth and I. This soulful city resparked a fire that was starting to dim within the two of us. We went there grumpy with eachother/life and came back exhausted, but alive once again! We were not even out of the city before we both agreed that we needed to come back annually – we had that amazing of a time!
New Orleans Suggestions:
1. When you visit the Big Easy go into it with an open mind! This is a unique city filled with a lot of colorful people, places, and things to do.
2. Ask the locals questions! They love to share their lives with tourist and what it’s like living in New Orleans. By you showing interest in them, you not only learn more, but are not a greedy tourist coming and taking what is theirs.
3. Visit during the month of February so you can experience some of the Mardi Gras celebrations!
4. Sight see New Orleans by the Hop-on Hop-Off Double Decker Bus. It’s a great way to not only see the town, but enjoy different neighborhoods that you may not be able to physically walk too. (Great option if you have limited mobility.)
5. Try to eat someplace new for each meal! The town is FILLED with endless options to choose from.