I stepped off the plane and immediately noticed that the airport smelled faintly like a swimming pool. I am one of those weird people who actually likes the smell of bleach so this wasn’t necessarily a bad thing. But there was no music playing, either. Hey, Toto, we aren’t in New Orleans anymore.
Until we bought the Prius our trips to New Orleans have usually been via airplane. I actually enjoy the drive and in some ways it’s easier than the hassles of getting to the airport on time, going through security (I try not to think about how many other bare feet have walked through the scanning area), changing planes, etc. Still, there’s that moment when you first get off the plane at the Louis Armstrong International Airport and feel the blast of warm humidity in the jetway. Then you enter the airport and are greeted with the scent wafting from the Lucky Dog stand and strains of traditional New Orleans music. Ahhh…
We are in California right now because David had to come here on business. He had a free ticket so I got to come along, too. Several friends confessed their jealousy over our travels and I’m grateful that we get to take some trips – especially to New Orleans. However, I can’t say either of us was all that excited about this trip, other than the fact we will get to see a friend and a few relatives while we are here.
Don’t get me wrong; California is beautiful. Well, I’m not fond of the desert where I grew up but much of the state is gorgeous. The mountains and beaches are pretty. I love the look of palm trees silhouetted against a darkening sky in the evening. And while we won’t get to do it on this trip, the drive along the Pacific Coast Highway is absolutely stunning. The weather in Southern California is also pretty nice much of the time.
You would think that having grown up here there would be that feeling of coming home when we first arrive but David and I talked about it and neither of us experience that. Granted, we’ve lived in Oklahoma 30 years. But don’t most people still feel a bit of longing for the place they grew up? Instead, we get that feeling when we go to New Orleans and yet we’ve never lived there. Strange, isn’t it?
A huge part of it is the people. I don’t want to tread on any toes here but honestly, when taken as a group Californians simply aren’t as friendly and easy going as folks in most parts of the South and especially in New Orleans. And they don’t seem as happy, either. As soon as we got off the plane David started getting phone calls from work. As he handled these calls I had perhaps 15 minutes or more to simply observe the people around me. No one was smiling. No one. Everyone was just simply sitting silently in the waiting area or striding down the walkway to pick up their luggage. There weren’t any folks hugging or laughing or humming along with the music – because there wasn’t any. That’s just so different from what we experience in NOLA. And you know what? We’ve been here a whole day and not a single person has called either of us baby or darlin’.
David and I are going to drive to Santa Monica for dinner in a little bit. We may walk out on the Santa Monica pier. I love the ocean so I’m excited about seeing it and I’m hoping we can find a good seafood restaurant. I plan to take some pictures and if we have time perhaps we’ll drive by the house my mom grew up in. Tomorrow morning we will drive to the desert and have a late breakfast with David’s friend from high school and probably meet at least one of his brothers for dinner. On Sunday we will go to Glendora to see my aunt and uncle and spend the night with them before flying home on Monday. It’s a quick trip and despite being only 15 minutes from Disneyland right now, we won’t have time for that this time. Darn. That’s one of my favorite things to do here.
I’m sure we will have a good time simply because David and I are together and that makes it good. However I can’t help but wish we were back in New Orleans, the city where our hearts reside.