The past few years, Big Daddy and I have been lucky enough to go on a week (or two!) child free vacation thanks to generous babysitting offers from Big Daddy’s family. The girls get to spend a week on the shore of a beautiful little private lake tucked into the north woods in Wisconsin and then they’re sent south to finish out their time in suburban Chicagoland.
Last year, Big Daddy and I flew out to the west coast, joined up with two good friends and had a serious blast. This year, we spent a fabulous week in New Orleans followed by a little bit of jet setting and ending up in Chicago for three great nights.
New Orleans is something special. Yeah, it’s a little dirty in some places and it can smell a little weird (or a lot weird depending on when you’re on Bourbon Street) but the layers of years feel so real there. Because they are. New Orleans encompasses two of my great loves: good history and food. Big Daddy and I had the very best time and we only saw a FRACTION of what there was to see. Big Daddy was there for a conference and I was acting as support staff (meaning, I’d talk him into naps and beers at times he should have been in a session).
I have seen the promised land and it is food in New Orleans. Seriously.
It was almost impossible to pick some place to go to eat because nearly everything had a four or five star review. Even the pizza we decided to eat in one night was incredible. But more than the food, was the feeling.
It was one of those amazing places where time feels suspended and all the layers are all pressed together and you’re having drinks at a bar where they have wifi and use square and the floor looks two hundred years old and probably is and the band is playing a song that’s almost a hundred years old and it’s all there together like pages in a book. (What movie was that where they talked about time pressed together like pages in a book. Was that Doctor Who?)
I got to watch the sun set on the Mississippi river from a paddle-wheel boat. That happened. I both held and ate an alligator. I walked past buildings that smelled all musty and closed up and if you like old things like I do, there is hardly a better perfume in the world. But better than all that was that for two weeks Big Daddy and I got to spend time alone together. That wasn’t to say our time was perfect. It wasn’t. (Let’s not talk about Hartford). But, not only are we grateful and appreciative for that time alone, I think it’s necessary. Sometimes, there seems to be a movement among parents to be martyrs, so to speak. We should never leave our little darlings. We shouldn’t go out alone with our spouse or have nights alone with our spouse and a two week child free vacation? Forget about it, but parents let me assure you that if you can arrange the child care then you must go off alone together. It gives you a view of the flipside. It shows you a tiny slice of what life will be like when you don’t have to hurry home and when you can linger over drinks or dinner or go for a walk after drinks and dinner.
Thinking about the children growing up and moving on has always been hard for me. I really feel as though I was meant to be a mother and I don’t really know what I’ll do when being a mother doesn’t eat up the majority of my days. But, on these vacations with Big Daddy I see a little hint of what life will be like when that does happen and I think I’ll be okay.
Quick and dirty guide to a few New Orleans establishments that Big Daddy and I loved:
Crescent City Brewing-order the seafood cheesecake
Luke-for shrimp and grits and bread pudding
Cafe du Monde-for cafe mocha and beignets
Jimmy J’s-for Eggs Lafitte (and where there was also a waiter that sounded exactly like Harry Connick Jr and I would have given him anything he asked for)