“Someone suggested there’s an incomplete part of our chromosomes that gets repaired or found when we hit New Orleans. Some of us just belong here,” (John Goodman).
Once upon a time, on a breezy spring night seven years ago, I stepped off the platform of a 27 hour train ride and was hit with the distinct eau de New Orleans : wilting Confederate jasmine and garbage.
And like lightning, like a coup de foudre, was floored. Suddenly. Forcefully. A bolt so sudden and so compelling I decided in that moment, right then and there, that somehow, someway, I would wind my way back here. Back to this swampy bayou city. Back to this place that captured my heart instantaneously.
Seven years ago, I realized New Orleans was my spot. My spirit city.
And then I up and left it.
It took me 4 years, 3 continents, 8 addresses, and a gazillion miles to get back to this place.
And now I’m up and leaving. Again.
My dad says it’s because the bottoms of my feet are actually lined with wings– that whenever I get itchy, feel antsy, my winged-feet become re-activated. Recharged.
My horoscope says it’s because I’m a fire-blooded Sagittarius and am wired for movement.
One of my brothers says it’s because I’m a commitment-phobe.
Which are all true, to some extent.
But honestly, I hate saying goodbye. And I hate leaving people– and places– behind.
I hate feeling like I don’t have enough time to say goodbye, that I leave people hanging, that I wasn’t thoughtful enough or kind enough or loving enough or bold enough.
I hate feeling haunted by shoulda-coulda-wouldas. I hate feeling like I have split and horcruxed myself into so many different pieces scattered over so many different places.
Which makes leaving New Orleans especially difficult: I thought, at long last, I had found a place to come back to. A place– and a people– that I wanted to call home.
And now here I am, leaving.
And my heart has started doing this weird panging thing.
To be abundantly clear, I am leaving of my own free will— I am leaving to pursue something I WANT to do.
I will be growing my brain– so much!
Exploring a new city– with public transportation!
Becoming a student again– at a really awesome and amazing graduate school!
Delving deeper into this idea of being both an educator and a social worker!
And I am so so SO excited.
But every so often, I feel so so SO sad.
Because leaving New Orleans feels like leaving my heart behind.
All of my sparkly, glittery, joy-filled heart.
A few weeks ago, a friend asked:
“How are you going to say goodbye to an entire city?!”
To which I responded by flopping onto my bed, staring up at the ceiling, and playing Bon Iver on repeat.
Somewhere between eating Nutella out of the jar watching “10 Things I Hate About You” and going for a long, head-clearing run, this idea popped up:
What if I created a way of expressing all the love and gratitude I have for New Orleans and its people?
What if I found a way of honoring all of the pieces of me that resonate so strongly with this swampy city I call home?
What if saying goodbye became something exciting?
And that’s how this, The June Project, began.