This past weekend, I experienced the one and only Mardi Gras weekend in New Orleans, LA. I experienced the full effects of the madness, the craziness, and the dangers. With every adventure comes a lesson. Unfortunately, this lesson was one I did not quite expect or want to deal with, especially as it was my boyfriend’s first time visiting New Orleans. But then again, when do the most important lessons happen when you want them to…
As you’ve read about before, I’ve traveled through many countries, all leaving each adventure unscathed and unharmed, all belongings in tact. I’ve missed trains, been stranded in unfamiliar cities with no cell phone service, slept overnight on a bench, been kicked out of a hostel (not my fault), walked countless miles in broken shoes and rain, but never have I been pick pocketed, losing all of the belongings that can prove who I am, can pay for the taxi home, can unlock the house I was staying at in a city I knew literally two people in, can drive my car home to Tallahassee, can get me into the Leach Gym… okay, that last one wasn’t too important. But at 4:30 am, after a long night down Bourbon Street, every thing that I had got stolen from me, while throwing out beads to the overcrowded streets of New Orleans, seemed like the most important, life-altering belonging in my existence.
I threw an absolute fit. My boyfriend tried to calm be down, but I wouldn’t have it. I called my parents, woke them up, frightened them, and ruined their entire morning and next day. I yelled at the AAA dispatcher. I yelled at everyone. All over a situation I had no control over. All because of these things I had stolen from me. And that’s just it, these things were just “things.” They were belongings, possessions, laminated objects that can identify who I am. But just because they identified who I was, they didn’t define who I was. I was still alive and healthy, and I was still in New Orleans during one of the largest celebrations in the world with friends I loved and loved me.
The next day, after what seemed to be setback after setback, I finally made it to the nearest Toyota dealership, about 12 miles away and paid an extreme amount of money for car keys. Once we got back to the house, safe and sound, with a calmness over me I could never imagine after what happened, I realized the lessons I was meant to learn.
A quote that came across my radar on the day after my belongings were stolen really hit home. It resonated with my current situation and with how I strive to live my life, and the way I reacted to this menial situation was not the way I wished to live out my life.
“We determine whether something will be a blessing or a curse
by the way we choose to see it.”
– Kate Nowak
Now, at the time and still at this moment, it’s hard to see the blessing in this situation. While it may not be the worst curse that could be cast upon me, especially during the more dangerous aspects of Mardi Gras, but it definitely could not be a blessing. Right?
My blessing during my moments of panic were the people that were there for me even when I was inconsolable. My parents, despite my irate, undeserved rants, worked tirelessly in the early morning hours to ensure that I would have the important issues sorted out by the time I woke up. My boyfriend, since the moment I found my purse without my wallet, was by my side and tried every single second to make me smile. Without him, I probably would have driven home as soon as my new car keys were cut. Instead, we spent the next two days being doused in beads from parade floats, wide smiles across our faces.
My blessing is the realization that cliches are cliches for a reason. “Things are just things.” “There are worse things in life.” “It happens to the best of us.” “When it rains, it pours.” Clichés are statements that have been used and overused by the majority of the population over a span of years. These statements have been used because incidents like mine have happened to thousands of people before me, and it will happen after me. I’m lucky to have been pick pocketed in my own country, where I can freely use my cell phone without overage charges, where my parents can contact me easily, where I speak the language.
My blessing was my insanely fun three days I spent in New Orleans, catching beads from parade floats, walking twelve miles throughout the streets, drinking hand grenade after hand grenade with someone I love.
If everyone focused on the misfortunes that are almost guaranteed to occur during travel, then the amazing moments of inspiration, wonder and curiosity would be recalled as inferior seconds.
It’s easy to look back on that moment of frustration and confusion as to why something like this could happen to me and realize it didn’t just happen to me. It happened to the friends I was staying with because I lost their house key. It happened to my boyfriend because I was in an outrageously upset mood while he was on what he still thought was a great vacation. It happened to my parents because they were woken up at 4 am to a sobbing daughter and a ludicrous Toyota bill.
The way I reacted to what happened could’ve alleviated the entire situation for everyone involved had I reacted in a more positive way. Unexpected, unfair events happen to everyone at some point, especially during travel. Like I said, it’s easy to look back and realize all of this. What’s difficult is to remember this realization the next time something unexpected and unfair happens.
Like the quote stated, the way we look at the hand being dealt to us determines how blessed we are in our lives. And to have loved ones in my life who helped me come to this realization is a blessing enough.
Aside from all of this happening to us, Mardi Gras was still a huge success, coming home each night adorned with beads and neon lights and giant feather boas. Although it can be quite dangerous, with far worse occurring than stolen wallets, I definitely recommend all who are 21 years old and up experience Mardi Gras at least once in their lives. Just remember to not bring your purse out with you!
For more pictures from my Mardi Gras experience,
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