But, thanks to an exciting visit from Aunt Amy, who gave the girls an awesome few days, Wednesday we flew. We spent the day riding streetcars, wandering the Garden District, inappropriately taking photos of real people's homes, and being sat in the "Patio Room" of Commander's Palace for lunch. Make no mistake, this might as well be called the "Room for Under-dressed Misfits." Giacomo led us past the crystal chandeliers and seersucker suits and through the kitchen to get there. Whatever.
It is so infrequent anymore that I am alone, out in the world. I forget what to do with my hands, how to carry myself. I sometimes forget I am a complete person, just me, capable of functioning independently. After coffee and a croissant at an outdoor cafe I navigated myself to, I started to remember. I made it to the spa right on time, trying to act cool, like I'd been there before. Then I realized the goofy smile on my face was giving me away.
"My husband surprised me," I said, to anyone who might listen. "I've never done this before." I probably didn't need to say that last part; I loved every minute of it. Four hours later I bounced down Royal toward the French Market for lunch. I opted for an outdoor café that had live music and even ordered "traditional" Cajun food. A waiter (who was not my own) started chatting me up about where I was from, what I'd been doing, and what I thought of New Orleans. And then I realized he didn't necessarily care about any of my answers. I was so unaccustomed to being "hit on" it didn't even occur to me this man in Crocs and an apron was doing it. I mentioned that I was just tagging along on my husband's work trip and-- what do you know-- he was gone.
For the next couple hours, I walked, buying little souvenirs and taking pictures along the river. I had a grand plan to sit beside the rooftop pool and read a book-- I couldn't wait. I walked back to the hotel, stopping for an iced coffee before heading up to my room. When I went to pay I realized I never collected my credit card from lunch. So maybe my feelings of incompetence were not entirely off base. In my Tevas I walked the 1.5 miles round trip to retrieve the card and finally made it to the pool to read. I took a shower and took my time getting ready, waiting for Daniel to come get me. It was a glorious day.
Friday I slept. Late into the morning while my darling husband did whatever he does on these trips. We walked the rainy streets together, had a fantastic dinner at Muriel's and took a pedicab to Frenchmen Street to listen to live music. By the time we ate our beignets Saturday morning, I was happy, tired, and ready to get home to our little girls.
We returned in time for the girls to bring me breakfast in bed (and eat most of it), and put on a private ballet recital in our living room.
The trip was two weeks ago now, and feels like a distant memory. Still I'm so grateful for time away and the reminders it brings: of the love and friendship I still have with my husband (of seven years and one day), of the spunky girl that is still under the mom somewhere, and that-- while the stillness and quiet and occasional ability to read a book are blissful-- those noisy, demanding, hysterical little girls make my life full.