Having lived in New York City for so long, I've trained myself to be small--to squeeze into that 5-inch gap on the jam-packed L train, to slide pass strolling tourists on the sidewalks and to hold back my applause after "showtime". We go through our days with an invisible force field, a sliver of precious personal space that we protect from the millions of strangers around us. Last weekend, I temporarily escaped that oppressive bubble when I visited New Orleans.
I had little idea of what to expect... jazz, jambalaya and Mardi Gras? I was there for a quick 48 hours to celebrate my close friend's bachelorette. Between our costume shopping trip at Fifi Mahony's, a burlesque class and back-to-back 4am mornings on Bourbon Street--New Orleans is indeed a magical city.
For one, you can drink on the street. MAAGIC. Two, the people are friendly and genuinely talented. They have interests and passions, like our cab driver knew the entire history of the city as if he were Google, our petite Burlesque instructor could start a fire with her eyes, our waiter Judas was an expert group photo-taker (down-angle only) and a hot, mysterious girl jumped on-stage at Cats Meow karaoke bar dancing crazy hard like So You Think You Can Dance hard to "Wrecking Ball". But my favorite and most memorable New Orleans personality was a street magician named Nico, who referred to himself as a Magician on a Motorcycle.
After browsing an antique lighting shop on Royal St, my friends and I stepped onto the street in front of a magician just about to begin his show. My love for magic is on abnormally high nerd levels so the barrier of me stopping to watch was pretty low. He invited the three of us, matching in our light pink bachelorette shirts, to step forward and help him create an "illusion of an audience". The rest is history.
Charming and untraditional with his wrench, buzzed head and red sharpie, Nico had me convinced that magic still exists. He pulled a wine bottle out of his hat but the line that did it for me was: "this show brought you all together in this moment. You are all sharing this unique memory. And there is no app for that."
MAGIC. It took a street performer who travels across America on his motorcycle to remind me that there is so much more than the everyday digital grind. We are living in a ever-so-connected world that for me to spend 20 minutes of undivided attention with complete strangers in a completely strange city and enjoy the humor, beauty and energy of that moment cannot be replaced with a like, share, comment, tweet, post, email or text.
New Orleans felt liberating. The live music, street performers, big ass beers... it was a much needed reminder that the most important thing is to be present in the moment and every moment is precious. If I want to slow walk in New York City or get into a subway performance, then I should. I don't want to live in a bubble no more.
Some photos from the magical city of NOLA: