I just flew back to Portland after a whirlwind trip to New Orleans for the annual IAVM conference. It was my 4th VenueConnect and I feel that I finally have found my groove. People know me, I know people, and I can make it through an entire conference with only 1 nap.
Just 1 nap! Incredible.
Normally I’m excited about a conference because of the networking and educational opportunities. This time, however, the location sat at the top of my list. I 100% adore New Orleans. It’s hot, muggy, smells a bit swampy (yes, I claim it’s swampy) but it is hands down the friendliest city I’ve visited. The people there just love music, gulf seafood and hospitality. Okay, okay, maybe they like an adult beverage or three. But seriously, friendly is something they excel at.
It takes a while to truly start to see the heart of a city. One trip there isn’t going to reveal such a treasure. Two trips, maybe… maybe on the third time. Maybe.
This time it took 4 visits for me to finally start to feel the vibe of this historical and culturally rich location nestled in the curve of the Mississippi River. Well, 5 if you count the time I went there when I was 12 (but I don’t).
The first time was in 2008 – just a few years after Katrina. We stayed in the French Quarter, went to a couple of concerts and I just about died from what I refer to as humidity suffocation. I don’t think that’s a real thing but let’s roll with it. It was a lovely trip but stressful. I was with a lot of people and with a lot of people come a lot of decisions that aren’t up to me. It was a good intro to New Orleans though.
The 2nd time was for a day before a cruise with my sister. We dined, saw a few sites and then left. Just like that. Trip over.
The 3rd time was also for a cruise but the sweet boy and I went down a few days early. Again, it was the typical tourist trip in the French Quarter, but something started to settle in me. I was extremely disappointed to leave the city. It called after me as we sailed down the river towards the gulf. The jazz danced through my ears for days. Memories of kicking back with a bloody mary and oysters stuck with me months after the trip was over.
I started to really love that city.
This last trip solidified it. I played tour guide for a few coworkers who had either never been or had only been once. I told them about the places I’ve visited as if they were old friends. We ventured out to Frenchman to find some good music like it was something I did every Monday night. I didn’t need a map to find where I needed to go. I told the stories that define the history of the region as if I was writing a text book. I also applied hot sauce to everything I consumed as if I was born on the bayou and raised to hunt muskrat.
Yes, I really love that city.
It’s a city of resilience, of love, of good times, of laughter, of sharing, of music and it truly is a good time.
So, what are you waiting for? Pack those bags and head south! You know you want to.
Did you come here looking for more info about the conference? I hope I didn’t disappoint. I’m sure I’ll blog about the networking and professional stuff later. This post had to come first, though. I can’t shake it.