My amazing friend Robin, a foodie whose dinner invites you drop everything else to attend (p.s. she knows of my love of mangoes and often finds ways to include them in a dish or drink for me–have I mentioned that she’s amazing?) texted Friday late morning: “I have a crazy travel idea involving food and art. Call me.” I did. Immediately. She had mentioned three of my favorite things–travel, food, and art.
On the phone, she told me she craved beignets and would we like to join her and her husband for a day trip to New Orleans the following day to satisfy said craving?
Backstory: I had gone a little crazy Thursday night. I might have had a minor breakdown. There may have been tears involved. I may have been feeling inadequate. The house made Mt. Vesuvius look like an elementary school science experiment. My garden, as I mentioned, flopped. I was supposed to be Wonder Woman, wielding knitting needles, spatula, and writing notepad instead of whip. And I was failing. Having a baby means letting things drop (and obviously, not the baby). This week, I chose to use Keegan’s naps to work on a short story. Which meant the house fell into chaos. I want to make things lovely, I told my husband. I want to create an environment that fosters beauty for our family. If only I had a couple of days to set this house in order. If only I could catch up on all those little jobs I had created for myself: pureeing mangoes and sweet potatoes from our latest food co-op basket to freeze for Keegan, getting started on Christmas knitting, Keegan knitting, and, yes, those cute socks and wraps and sweaters for myself, working on the office, which looks like the home of a hoarder, cleaning our shower. Then all would be right with the world.
Naturally, I told Robin we were in.
I had never been to New Orleans, and now, with a five month old who hated flying and a to-do list that looked like it came from a Dr. Seuss book, seemed the prime time.
Our day started with aforementioned craved beignets and cafe au lait at Cafe Du Monde. While we gorged on sugar and caffeine, some young jazz musicians trying out their chops serenaded us. Watch out, Trombone Shorty, these kids are coming for you!
Then we headed to a small arts festival where, yes, more jazz musicians provided a soundtrack while we meandered through the booths. After that, I tried out my first po’ boy at Mother’s.
But then came my soul food, that which nurtured my starving spirit. We strolled down Royal Street in the French Quarter. The architecture–cast iron fences draped in ivy and flowers, brightly colored shutters, locked gates hiding secret courtyard gardens–stimulated my imagination.
So camera in hand, husband, son, and friends by my side, we wandered down the street, in and out of art galleries, gulping the beauty of New Orleans at its best.
As our day finished, rain fell from the sky, a last offering of refreshment for the parched. We drove back to the airport and returned home, where dirty dishes, unfolded laundry, and stained carpet waited for me. No matter. My family found beauty on an unexpected trip.