My love letter to leaving New Orleans.
For the second time that is.
I grew up in Chalmette and always daydreamed of a life that took me away to a big city with hustle and bustle. I got the chance to enjoy the city somewhat when I attended high school in New Orleans. I met my friends there. We laughed often, we were carefree and we had no responsibilities. I enjoyed discovering New Orleans as a teenager.
I decided to go to LSU for college.
At the end of my first year of college, I faced one of the hardest emotional challenges of my life at that age. My only older brother died.
I moved back home and fell into a pretty deep depression. While all of my friends were living an idyllic college experience, I was heartbroken. I felt lost and yearned for a change.
The change presented itself as an opportunity to attend nursing school and work in Tuscaloosa where my extended family lived.
I decided to make the big move away from everything I’d ever known up to that time in my life. I was 20 years old and didn’t realize how that move would change my life.
After the first few years in Tuscaloosa, I became homesick and thought about moving back. Then my childhood home was destroyed during Hurricane Katrina*. I decided to stay in Tuscaloosa to attend nursing school. I spent the majority my twenties working full-time while in nursing school. I didn’t spend my twenties traveling, and I did not have any type of “traditional” college experience.
One night after working a long shift in the Emergency Room, I met my husband in the local dance bar. That was 16 years ago.
After dating for three years, we lived in South Carolina. We enjoyed our engagement until our wedding in Mandeville, which is where my parents lived at the time.
After we were married I was itching to move back home and settle down somewhere in New Orleans.
On our honeymoon of all places, we received the opportunity to move back. And it was a beautiful homecoming. I showed my husband all the things I missed and loved: Mardi Gras, amazing restaurants, the culture and experiences I missed so much during the time I was gone.
We purchased our first home in Metairie a year after moving back to the area.
We have made so many memories in our home. It’s a home we raised our sweet pup those first few years when it was just us three.
We were able to travel a lot and share our love of New Orleans with those we met during our travels. We were able to relax after long weekends during festival season, attend crawfish boils and enjoy many a Mardi Gras parade.
We made this home our own by displaying our love of New Orleans on the walls and shelves. Especially those prized Mardi Gras throws.
We brought our amazing daughter from the hospital in 2014. This house provided a safe space to grieve the experience of secondary infertility, and multiple miscarriages. And then in 2021 we brought our precious son home, and he met his sister with such love.
This is the home we quarantined in for 2020.
This is the home in which we experienced such a spectrum of experiences: celebrations, so much laughter, dance parties, parties, hurricanes, first words, first steps, bicycle riding, first days of school, cooking delicious meals, sidewalk chalk, evacuations, so many king cakes, and many more memories.
I’m so happy that we were able to celebrate my son taking his first steps just this last week in this home.
12 years later our family finally has the opportunity to move to a great big city. Chicago. The thing I always said I wanted.
And it’s bittersweet.
I am leaving my parents and my siblings. I am helping my daughter navigate her emotions through this new adventure.
For me, New Orleans is an emotional rollercoaster of celebration, happiness, uncertainty, grief, and anger (especially at Mother Nature).
As I reflect on the memories, I’m definitely teary-eyed. And I suspect I will probably cry so many ugly tears when I hug my momma goodbye.
But I am excited about our new adventure. I am sad to say goodbye (for now).
I take comfort in knowing more new memories and new sets of firsts will happen in Chicago. More laughter will be shared. More travel will happen.
Home is where your people are. And I’m going to try my best to embody the sentiment of blooming where we are planted.
And reflecting on what I won’t miss about New Orleans (*hurricanes).
I will miss the comfort of those family and friends that have seen us through all our firsts. And king cake. And crawfish.
Allison Smith is an RN and mom of 2 children ages 8.5 and 14 months. She’s been married to her husband Stephen since 2010, and they live in the Bucktown area of Metairie. Lately, her days consist of packing her home for the big move, daycare pickup, and school carpool. In her downtime she enjoys listening to crime podcasts, audiobooks, chasing her toddler around the house, and enjoying the occasional movie night with her husband. In this season – she’s embracing the busier moments and the laid-back days. She is passionate about community social issues, sharing awareness for child safety issues, and creativity in the kitchen. On any given day, you can find her doing an evening stroll with the baby listening to her favorite podcast.