Saturday, April 19, 2014

Big Apple to Big Easy - Week 1

Ever thought about moving? Ever thought about just picking up and going somewhere else you find intriguing - permanently - even if you have "no good reason" to do so?

I have no evidence to back up this statement but solely based on my own empirical data (aka talking to people) I bet 75% of you have. New Yorkers are divided into two camps: the "ugh. how could anyone live anywhere else? Except maybe Paris...or some parts of Berlin," and the "gosh...I bet life is better in ______ [insert smaller, cheaper, lazier city name here]." I fell into the first camp from approximately 18-25 and then spent 5 years thinking...gee, where else could I live that wouldn't bore me into madness and/or obesity?

Well, ladies and gentleman...let me introduce you to New Orleans. NOLA. Or at least the strange, artsy, craftsy, hipstery, unkempt, jungly, peaceful, curious, wild and wonderful neighborhood I live in known as the Bywater (which is kind of ironic because in the town I was raised in, Bywater is basically the most dangerous housing project but I digress...).

"You bein watch" AND " I love Obamacare"
You may recognize my 'hood from every single HBO show ever and it's just as weird and wacky as it looks on TV. There are plants that look like animals and chickens running free. One out of every two houses has either a creepy painted, "you be watched," sign with one piercing eyeball, a plethora of weathered Mardi Gras beads hanging from the hundred year old knocker, a handmade junk-pile statue, or my favorite- the ubiquitous, "Be Nice or Leave," slogan etched across their property in some mixed media.

The paint jobs are bright. The sidewalks are choppy. The restaurants have interesting and ironic menus a la Brooklyn, but fortunately a dinner of haute "street food" at Booty's will run you about half as much as the same dinner in Park Slope. Ironic, right?
The menu at Suis Generis - a restaurant on my block

Every block has another artist's studio, or packed-to-the-brim antique shop, or perhaps a clothing optional pool/restaurant called The Country Club. Not sure what is more incredible: the architecture, the foliage, the remnants of long-forgotten eras juxtaposed with the sudden influx of young-techtrepreneurs looking to build their start-ups here. I find my head on a swivel 24/7 - the way it was when I was 18 living in Manhattan. And though there's plenty of lifers in this area, giving it that uniquely Nawlins flavor, there's also tons of transplants. I've met New Yorkers, a BUNCH of North Carolinians, and a few Boston & Austin-expats. Silicon Bayou is the nickname given to a subsection of my hood because of all of us newbie-wannabe-entrepreneurs that have come here in droves. And I don't blame us! The livin' is easy, the people are creative and well-educated, and the culture is thriving. If you dig palm trees in the desperate, passionate way that I do - we've got those by the boat load too. It's literally to a T the way I pictured it being in my head, only maybe better.

In the one week since I've touched down in NOLA I found an amazing yoga studio & health-food co-op in the SAME BUILDING in walking distance from my home. I've met and interviewed with young, inspiring, intelligent entrepreneurs who may want to hire me for freelance gigs. I've planted a garden and began designing a mini yoga studio in my home. As scary and daunting as risky as moving to a new city has seemed at various times, let me just far so good.

So if you're wondering about moving...and think you really want to...and don't like where you're living...or think you might prefer living elsewhere...or have a fantasy that the pulse of ________ city could beat at the same pace as your heart the way NOLA does with mine...or don't want to be 50 and look back and think GOD why didn't I move while I was still young... then just freaking do it.  Sure, it might be scary at first. But it also might be even more amazing than you imagined it to be.