Four years ago, a strange New Orleans welcomed me. Four years later, I cry as I leave MY New Orleans, firmly holding the gifts it gave me.
It gave me the gift of growing in to an adult. Of moving to a new city on my own, without the safety of friends and family. It gave me the option of risk. It gave me my first grown-up job; my first career paycheck. It gave me the most perfect New Orleans students. Their smiles and their mischief. It gave me an adventure. It gave me the most perfect house on a street appropriately named Fleur de lis. It gave me yellow walls the color of sunshine. It gave me a perfect roommate to call my own and to cherish. It gave me a place to experience a new relationship for the first time; for he and I to figure things out on our own, in our own time. It gave me a new place to explore at every corner, at any hour.
New Orleans gave me my perfect school. My precious family of students. It gave me coworkers to work with, collaborate with, bond with. It gave me a space to grow in life with my cousin. To adventure together in a city we both wanted to know more about- to unwrap the mysteries of. It gave me a place to grow my serious relationship; for us to navigate life together. I got engaged in this place; in my city. I planned a wedding and dreamed of my future in the Big Easy.
New Orleans gave me another year with my family of students. There is no one like them. It gave me the perfect partner teacher to share my students with. It gave me a place to navigate my first year of marriage. To do it on our own, away from piercing eyes. It gave me the perfect apartment for newlyweds. An apartment that overlooked the most adorable part of my Crescent City. It gave me tree-framed streets and a glistening bayou. It gave me hustle and bustle and quiet and calm. It gave me joy.
New Orleans gave me a space to live my marriage. To truly live it. It gave me the path to refine my craft, my teaching ability, my career, in a supportive environment. It gave me the most perfect coworkers and community, relationships I will value for a lifetime. It gave me pure friendships and the love of my students. It gave me another year with the children I see as family. There is NO ONE like them. New Orleans gave that to me.
To quote Emma Roberts, “when I can’t sleep, I close my eyes and walk through the French Quarter.” I believe this will also be true for me for many years. Only instead of the French Quarter, I will walk through the perfect four years New Orleans gave me, in my city.