When I moved to NOLA in 1997, it was solely to attend school. Not to live in a city, per se. I was going to college. (!). Exclamation point included. I was dead set on leaving Florida, pinkie swearing on the corner of Dixie Highway that it would not later be used against me in a guilt trip. It never was. But there I stood all of 18 years, thinking I knew every damn thing there was to know about every thing. I swear I knew everything. And I was going to college.
What I didn't know was there was this entire city of people, places, and history that I was going to be introduced to. That would come well after I spend my requisite nights at frat parties and the Boot. Weeks and weeks and weeks there. But eventually I would take my nose out of the vat and would learn of this wonderful world built around one of the greatest cities. Where history meets personality and there is culture in every space you turn.
What I didn't know was that the first two people I befriended would not make it through the first year. Both owing their departure to some nose candy and an inability to handle the consumption of the city and of the affluent influences of Tulane's study body. I too had no idea. I had a foundation, I had seen it. To a degree as a highschooler. Lexis' in the parking lot and party hopping at the age of 17. But this was country club, private school, nuevo riche with all the trappings that came with it. We drank keg beer in backyards out of red plastic cups. They did coke. A whole different ball game that claimed each individual separately. I would learn that Tulane was not for everyone. Also claiming two of my suite mates after the first year. For totally different reasons, but still it was not meant for them. Really that glamour does not translate to sustainability. Reasons we chose the school in the first place do not match what our day to day experience are. On all ends of the spectrum
What I didn't know was that when I asked for a restaurant referral on the first parent's weekend was that there was not really a place called Emeralds. In those days before google, I tried my hardest to find this place that came so highly recommended. What I didn't know was that she meant Emeril and that he was a cooking legend and his food was a phenom. Something that I will learn as we later enjoy his BBQ shrimp and visit and revisit his restaurants across the continent.
What I didn't know was how much I would hold so close those memories and times. I think back fondly on my undergraduate days despite all the turmoil, trauma, and young girl mistakes. More importantly is how much you learn in college about, well, about life. Things I swore I already knew as a so so very sophisticated high school grad. I had spent a lot of time discussing such with my very brilliant colleagues at Miami Palmetto Senior. I knew everything about everything. So I went to university to major and learn of macro economics and Latin American studies. But that really became secondary to all the education going on around me. Since what we truly learn are lessons about people, behaviors, friendships, our own limits and strengths and of course great food.
There is certainly not a lack of good food in NOLA. Commander's Palace's brunch, pralines, and a zillion other things all have to be tried. I'm glad you had four years to do it.
Actually it was seven.
You know, I totally agree. I always say that life's not what you do but who you do it with.
I'm now amending that to "life's not what you do, its who you do it with - and where you eat afterwards".
hmmmm had dinner at emeril's april just before katrina. lovely meal. the first and only time i have been to new orleans.
Ha. Emeralds made me laugh.
It is so funny how you think you just know everything and something so small and really stupid comes along and humbles you.
Oh yes, I knew everything then, too. And now, I think every day of how little I truly do know but also, the specialness of REALLY knowing what I do. (If that makes any sense at all.)
But we really do know more now, we are just aware of the infiniteness of it and that we should be open to it. At 18 I could give a damn.
College was certainly a learning experiences. In many many ways, way beyond academics.
PS- Perhaps a dumb question... but, what's NOLA? I think you New Orleans.....
It is an abbreviation for New Orleans, Louisiana.
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