Today is Bastille Day, the French holiday celebrating the storming of the Bastille. Or for you Francophiles, la Fête nationale. However, as I am neither French nor revolutionary, today would have simply gone by with little muss or fuss. Except lately I find myself missing the one place in the United States I think of as French.
If you’ve been following this blog, you’ll know this isn’t my first post about New Orleans (nor will it likely be my last). From taking a panicked call from a mentee to finding the right place to pee, I’ve probably covered most of the city and nearly all the sights and smells. And if you’ve been to NOLA, you know there’s a smell.
However, the more I thought about how I was feeling, I started to realize that it’s not just missing NOLA (and believe me I do and will this year) but the whole idea of travel in general. For most architects, being in another city isn’t just about getting away for fun. Travel is an opportunity for us to experience new architecture or reacquaint ourselves with the familiar. We all have favorite cities, and even though we’ve been again and again (probably 30+ times to NOLA in the last 23 years), we will always find something new to experience.
And oddly enough, I start most years complaining about the amount of traveling I’m having to do for the year. For 2020, we had six different trips scheduled and almost eight. Over the past several years, that has not been an uncommon number. Some trips were together, and some were just me, usually if I was speaking at a conference in a city James had no interest in.
Yet secretly, I have been enjoying the travel no matter how much bitching I did about going. Unfortunately I didn’t realize just how much until we suddenly couldn’t.
Don’t get me wrong. NOLA is close enough we could drive down if we wanted to. Except our friends wouldn’t be there to share the time with. Our favorite bars would be closed (as all bars are). And the streets would have an odd clean smell I’m not sure I’d enjoy as much.
I realize, as I write this, not everyone has the opportunity we do to travel and explore. James and I have been blessed to be able to journey about. My hope, however, is as we work through the pandemic and start coming out the other side, more people will be able to get away. Whether that means a trip to a family home out of state, a trek to see friends not seen for a while, or a jaunt to someplace with a nice beach and an unlimited supply of margaritas.
But for now, I will continue to miss my New Orleans. Both the sights.
And the smell.