Wednesday, January 27, 2016

The Quest for New-ness #3

If I don’t want to get stale in my Third Third, I need newness. I need jolts and shake-ups. Actually, my whole life has been about wanting and liking jolts and shake-ups, but the difference is that now I feel I need them to ward off any encroaching stagnation. (We’re doing the difference between want and need in my literacy classes, can you tell?)

My friend Mark said I’m his friend with the longest same address and longest same phone number. That’s kind of frightening. So travel seems to be one way to add newness to my life.

I read somewhere that Americans are now putting shopping at the top of their list of travel pursuits. Shopping?!? And not even for local specialties or products, but for … T-shirts? Things they could find at home?! Not my idea of adding newness.

Even though we mostly travel to Central and South America, New Orleans was still a “push” for me. The things everyone talks about – food, drink, and music – are not so high on my list. As I get older, I’m noticing that alcohol doesn’t feel so good in my body. I made it through the holidays without gaining weight so why would I stuff myself on vacation? And music is tied up with either the piano lessons that gave me ulcers when I was 12 or dancing to the Rolling Stones, so I’m not very good at sitting and listening either.

Aiiiee, does this sound like someone in need of jolts and shake-ups or what? So how’d New Orleans hit me?

Well, I did discover that certain drinks are pretty easy on my system. Pat O’Brien’s Hurricanes, for example. Prude that I am, I usually frown on alcohol as some sort of anesthetizing that people shouldn’t be doing – and when I saw the debauchery on Bourbon Street, I went Temperance Union on myself – but it felt pretty good to get a little loopy in the sun. Call that a pleasant little jolt, a rolling, happy little jolt.

When we went to Antoine’s for lunch and they offer a maximum of three 25¢ cocktails, I thought, “Who’d ever have THREE?” Well, I loved those three Blue Bayous just fine. Tim’s father had served in World War II with an apprentice chef from Antoine’s so we were on a quest, but the Blue Bayous were a pleasant little addition.

I’m pretty sure I don’t have to talk about the food because everyone was right. I found my great gumbo place and we went back again. My jambalaya spot, too. Not to mention the beignets, which I still don’t understand because doesn’t everyone have state fairs with funnel cakes?

But it was the MUSIC! I couldn’t get over the fantastic musicians just setting up on street corners or in Jackson Square. I heard Doreen on clarinet like I never knew a clarinet could be played. And Wael and Anna on violins with baby Mia strapped to Wael’s back. I remembered their corners, sought them out, bought their CDs. I learned I like some jump to my jazz, but not so much brass that it sounds like a marching band.
We managed to find ourselves at the start of the Second Line in honor of David Bowie, which was a jam-packed, hilarious mess but if you’re on vacation, it’s an adventure. Later, we caught a wedding parade coming out of the cathedral. The band played as the bride and groom danced down the street, with the wedding party following in gowns with glasses of champagne. Tim and I had eloped. I told him if I’d known there was a way to get married like that, that’s what we would have done! I just kept imagining the in-laws realizing they weren’t in Kansas anymore.
So that’s the heart of it really: encountering a whole new way of doing things that never occurred to me before. That’s the kind of New Thing that lights up the corner of your brain that hadn’t imagined it, and travel is a spark to the whole power grid.

Now, as always, the question is how to keep that spark lit, how to create a Third Third life that reinvigorates and replenishes on a regular basis.

Do I drink to that?

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