I also love my Saints. I've bled black and gold for longer than I can remember. And as I watched my team and my city showcased on national television last night, I experienced a wide range of emotions, beginning with the obvious: pride. I am so proud to be from New Orleans. Because when you're from New Orleans, it's not just where you're from. It's who you are. No matter where you go, it's in your bones, in every fiber of your being.
Which is why it's so hard to be away. I have not lived in New Orleans since I graduated from high school more than 12 years ago. My life's journey has taken me to Baton Rouge for college, Georgia for a few years after that, and then back to Baton Rouge, where I met my husband, bought a house, and settled down. I love my life. And living in the Capital City has its perks as well. But you know how it goes, you can take the girl out of NOLA, but you can NEVER take the NOLA out of the girl.
So watching that game, I also felt a sadness, or maybe it was more of a longing. A longing for the city I love, and the city that has made me who I am today. I thought about all of the things I miss about New Orleans and all of the reasons I'm so proud to call it my hometown. I could go on for days, but...
New Orleans has the best food in the world. That one's a given, and I could without a doubt dedicate an entire blog to just specific restaurants or unique cuisine in the city.
Jazz Fest. French Quarter Fest. Po Boy Fest. "Fill in the Blank" Fest. Every week there's something to celebrate, so New Orleans throws a party. And everyone's invited.
Go-Cups. Drive-Thru Daiquiris. I remember bringing some friends from up north to New Orleans for the first time, and the shock in their eyes when they learned there was a drive-thru window for alcohol. It was about the same reaction I had when I tried to to leave a Baton Rouge bar with a drink for the first time and learned that this wasn't the norm. Also, when I started college, I had never encountered the words "last call" or had anyone turn the lights on at a bar. It was a rude awakening.
The Saints. Being a Saints fan is special, as I'm not sure there is another team as intertwined with the culture and people of the city it represents as the New Orleans Saints. If you love New Orleans, you love the Saints. You just do.
Mardi Gras. By far the coolest holiday of the year, and one you can't explain to someone who has never been. I'm lucky I live close enough to return every year to celebrate this amazing tradition. Oh, and that moment when you see other cities trying to have a "parade?" It's just cute.
The Catholic Bubble. You can't drive more than a 5-mile radius without finding a Catholic Church. Prayer is a part of our culture and a way of life in New Orleans and you can't escape it.
We are survivors. For more reasons than one, but Hurricane Katrina devastated the city of New Orleans. And people came back, and these people are the ones who make it such a special place. Any time an out-of-towner finds out I'm from New Orleans, the first questions I get are usually about Katrina. And I'm OK with that. I love telling the story of how my city triumphed over adversity and continues to persevere and thrive.
It's where my Mom is. And my in-laws. And so many friends and family. Which means it's a part of me. Forever.
There is no place like New Orleans. Try to find another city with the charm, charisma, diversity and flare of New Orleans. Good luck.
Congratulations to the Saints on a huge win last night over the Green Bay Packers. But those of us from NOLA - whether you live there now or not - have so much more to be proud of. We are from THE greatest city in the world. Laissez Les Bon Temps Rouler!