Life may be short but New Orleanians have learned how to make the most of it
Something’s stirring in the air like never before in this city. Spring is springing early, and markedly so in some of our lives, even as the thermometer outside reads a frigid 37 degrees. The pollen that’s getting kicked up by all this flinging about is causing veritable cases of spring fever— and I’m not so certain that some are in seek of a cure.
For instance, take a good look at your single friends. Are they having a field day in the dating department like mine are? It appears they’re not just plodding through the usual suspects—a task that ultimately ends in utter disappointment. They’re saying no to being fixed up with a co-worker’s “quite a catch” brother who’s in need of being thrown back into the sea for maturing.
Singles in this city are getting better about taking the bull by the horns and dragging him to the ground when it comes to voicing their needs. They’re deciding early what the prerequisites are for potential dates, and they’re sticking to those acutely defined boundaries. No one’s doing habitual, mercy or experimental dating right now; people are going directly for what they actually want, at a fever-pitched rate. One friend of mine won’t date men who are too close for comfort with their ex-wives, no matter how much she might like them. Another told me that as long as a man has money and an ego, she’ll get along with him just fine. (To each her own!) Another says that she can’t put up with a guy who hunts and fishes—in any form or fashion—no matter how sweet he is or how much he respects his mama. And even if that means kicking a longtime-yet-just-not-working relationship to the curb, then so be it.
The result? The mercury is rising. People are having a fabulous time in the company of their dates, whom they wind up terrifically compatible with because they’ve eliminated a lot of the agony that often goes hand-in-handwith dating. And those looking to do (or in some cases even those NOT looking to do) the “steady” thing are finding viable partners faster than normal, and in turn, people are quickly morphing into couples.
And what are many of these couples doing with their newfound joy? Lots are kicking it a few rungs up the commitment ladder. I just plucked a beautifully engraved wedding invitation out of my mailbox a minute ago, the third one since January. I know I’ll be receiving four more before the end of 2007.
Did Katrina have some sort of impact on the romantic scene in this city? I’d say yes. Katrina destroyed our homes and personal belongings, so we were given no choice but to learn that we can actually thrive after an uncalled-for purging of the physical effects of our lives. Maybe we are now applying that to our emotional well-being too? This is a refreshing change from some of the drama I’ve been privy to in the pre-Katrina dating world, a sphere where people often held on for dear life to relationships that just weren’t working. Today, they are stopping to think about what works best for them in their limited time here on this earth. Katrina may be responsible for pushing people in New Orleans to realize that life should be lived to its absolute fullness. It should be rife with as much happiness and contentedness as can possibly be squeezed into it.
And being more upfront with one’s self and going directly for what feels right—even if it means deviating from one’s normal course in life—is not confined to the relationship arena. People are stepping up to the plate to take control of their lives by trying things that might possibly bring them more joy, things that may have never crossed their minds in the past. I hear more than ever from friends and family that they’re seriously considering changing careers or going back to school, after years of being locked into the same job. A cousin of mine dreams of chucking the medical profession to open a doggie daycare center, and she may have already done so by the time I finish typing this line. If so, good for her—she just might create a career for herself that she truly loves. Even the small pleasures in life, such as sampling Lebanese food for the first time, can have a profound impact. The worst thing that could happen is that it’s an unenjoyable experience; the best is a newfound craving for hummus and tabbouleh. And what’s so wrong with having a bit more pleasure in life?
The thaw is on, and spring has arrived. Spring cleaning is all about determined weeding out, thoughtful planting, loving nurturing and the bountiful harvesting of new life. Most New Orleanians are now donning their gardening gloves, and more than ever, they’re stopping to smell the roses they’ve cultivated.