Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Where It All Began

My first trip to New Orleans was back in 1996 with a college professor. And no, it wasn't as lurid as that sounds. As I was finishing up my accounting degree at Rider I saw an American Studies course that looked to be right up my alley (and would complete an elective requirement). The class was "The New South in Literature, Music, and Film" and the professor was Dr. Jack Sullivan. It was my first exposure to Tennessee Williams's "A Streetcar Named Desire". Though the class was an abbreviated summer class, Jack and I formed a bond and became friends. He even tried to persuade me to change my major to American Studies. As attractive as that was, my degree was only a short distance away and the thought of starting over (again) was overwhelming. I took another of his classes and at the end I received my degree. That was also when Jack told me about New Orleans. He said that he brings a class to NOLA every year because he considers it the most unique American city, perfect for American Studies credits. He told me he thought I would love it and encouraged me to accompany them. I did, and the rest is history. I couldn't have had a better guide. We saw The Nightcrawlers at Donna's, Kermit (with BBQ on his pick up) at Vaughn's, Leroy Jones at Preservation Hall. Some of whom I am fortunate enough to consider friends to this day. We ate memorable meals (most memorable was at Emeril's NOLA where I ate myself sick) and saw beautiful sights. By the end of that first trip I knew New Orleans would be my home some day. And now it is. I'm writing this because Jack and his class of 20 students are arriving this afternoon and I'm excited. Over the years I haven't always been able to meet up with them for various reasons but I always love the idea of people being exposed to my adopted city for the first time. I love seeing and hearing their reactions to it, and always wonder if one of them will feel the pull that I felt. And it was a pull, when I went home after that first trip I was constanly wondering what was going on down here. That wonder never went away. I also credit that first trip with motivating me to get out of an awful, stagnant, four year relationship. Life's  possibilities were endless to me after spending time in this city. I always hope that another student will feel this. I'll be meeting up with them this evening and heading over to Kermit's bar (Sidney's) to see the Rebirth (Brass Band). Maybe I can make them see just a bit of what I see.

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