Falling in Love with New Orleans
We were first introduced in November of 2020. I had heard about her storied history with food, rich tradition, language, and resilience shaped by generations of Spanish, French, African, West Indian, Caribbean and deep southern influences. On our first meeting, she made no attempt to impress me. As my husband and I drove through her neighborhoods on our first of several house-hunting trips, I was taken back by the fallen trees, rough and bumpy streets, and the desolateness of power outages after a low category hurricane had just come to visit her.
After making the decision to make her home in July of 2021 (on the tail end of the Covid pandemic), my husband and I began the task of searching for schools for our three daughters. We had a longstanding philosophy – pick the school first and focus house search around the location of school. While our daughters thrived academically in the schools we had selected, making friends was tough. My husband and I continued to ensure home was a safe space for our daughters and we encouraged open communications regarding feelings of isolation. Our philosophy – focus on being your own best friend and friendships will come.
Several months shy of our one-year introduction and six weeks after moving into our home, we were warned that a Category 4 Hurricane would be visiting her. With our mini schnauzer, guinea pig, and anything of value we could take, we evacuated for several weeks. Although we returned to our home intact, it was becoming clear that any favorable impressions would be slow.
Over time, she began to reveal the layers of her complexity as I struggled to find comfort with her. Finding a church home was a priority. I chose one that had an active in-person children’s ministry as many churches were still operating virtually due to the pandemic. It had a diverse congregation of out-of-state transplants who had migrated to the city for work or ministry. I joined a women’s bible study where I found spiritual support and comfort.
Finding a place to exercise was a second priority. I discovered her parks and connected with group fitness trainers which allowed me to connect with a community of fitness enthusiasts.
I began to explore her restaurant, bar, and live music scene. Although she felt like a small town, the breadth and allure of the activities she offered were boundless. Date nights became romantic escapades of being in a foreign land where I could sip a craft cocktail, listen to famous live instrumentalists on Frenchmen Street and experience world class cuisine in one fell swoop.
Over time, she would ignite my passion for the arts when I discovered her ballet conservatory, local grassroots dance companies, and actors’ studio.
She would later woo me with a cataclysmic experience that culminated in oversized moving toys that seem to come to life with colorful bright light displays, music, multi-colored costumed dancers, masked men throwing beads, and marching bands parading through the streets.
On the eve of Fat Tuesday, she would whisk me and my husband away as we donned the finest formal wear in our closet to her royal balls with royal coronary courts. She would tickle our taste buds with the fragrant aroma of a puff pastry type delight flavored with cinnamon and coated with an assortment of green, purple, and yellow colored sugary cream cheese icing.
She was and continues to be unpredictable, charming, quirky and resilient. I have never experienced anything like her. As I continue to get to know her, my fondness for her continues to grow.
About the Author
Lisa Simpson Hoover is married and resides in New Orleans with her husband, three daughters, a mini schnauzer and guinea pig. She is an attorney who maintains an office in Atlanta and Chicago with a national mediation service with an office in New Orleans. She is an artist and fitness enthusiast who enjoys consignment shopping and spending time with her family.