I’ve been in a weird place, content wise, lately. Have not been the least inspired to write. (Which… ya know… is not normal.) Possibly because I’ve been expending all of my creative energy on our new YouTube Channel! Derek and I have grown this thing from the ground up and I couldn’t be more proud of it. It is insane how many people support us by watching, subscribing, commenting and liking our videos. We’re having a lot of fun being a part of the YouTube community — but, like I said, it’s come at the cost of this little ol’ blog.
I’m going to try to stay true to my first love, writing. I promise.
Which is why I’m here, now. Derek and I recently took a four day trip to New Orleans, Louisiana. It was our first get-a-way together, and my first time in the city. We filmed a video about our trip that you can watch here:
But, here, on my sacred blog, I wanted to talk to you about what really happened in New Orleans: where my emotions were, what my heart was telling me, the electricity of the city and the sparks that continue to fly between my beloved and I.
Let me begin by saying that I am a nervous flyer. Flying in my adult life has always meant being alone or with coworkers. Never with someone I care about. Never someone whose presence comes with peace. Those were the souls I was frantically trying to text before I lost service.
“Taking off. Love you so so so much. Call when I land. Love you. Did I say I love you?”
But, this time, my Fortress of Strength and Peace was sitting next to me and playing Migos to get “pumped up” for take-off. Being suspended in air above God-knows-where still put my stomach in knots, but instead of imagining how terrified I would be if the plane went down, I was imagining Derek heroically finding parachutes for the two of us and busting out a window or something.
So, that was nice.
If you watched the video, then you know we didn’t have a set plan for our time in NOLA. It was more-or-less just wandering around, being tourists and enjoying not being cold. My free-spirit enjoyed this lack of structure, but I think Derek wanted an itinerary, as he kept making short-term ones. He’s the yin to my yang.
We spoke a bit in the video about the house we stayed in, and even incorporated a tiny tour, but I’d love to speak more about it, here.
It was a small house, and everything about it told you it was old. The very weird layout, the tiled porch floor, the narrow front door, the ivy fashionably inviting itself to every corner. Oh, and the smell.
Derek will tell you that he didn’t think our Airbnb was the cleanest place in the history of the world, but I will tell you that things like that don’t bother me as much as they probably should. The house, I don’t believe was dirty or in poor keeping, but just old.
It smelled old. It smelled like my Nana’s house in West Virginia. Like someone had built it out of necessity a long, long time ago, and it had been passed down. A lot. And everyone that had ever lived in it had just made the best of it, adding special things to it and taking some “freshness” with them when they left. It smelled like it had memories and stories and parties and sleepy Sundays. It smelled lived in. It smelled like someone’s home.
It was a smell that you got used to, but that poked you in the face every time you went out into the world and came back inside. Derek thought it smelled wet. Maybe that was it.
Regardless, that place was our home for four days and three nights. My favorite part of it was the porch.
The first thing that caught my eye was the porch swing, which, I consider to be a sign of my relationship with D. You know how some people see a penny on the ground and consider that a sign from a dead relative? Or how anytime I see a giraffe, I instantly think of my Mother who collects everything with a giraffe on it?
Porch Swings = Derek and I, in my mind.
Why, you ask? Simple answers there.
Derek’s home for a many number of years had the most ballin porch of all time. And before I even knew who Derek was, our mutual friend Colin would tell me about their porch and this porch swing. And how he would come home from work and his friends would just be on the porch having porch-beers. Or about the time he came home and there was a swimming pool inflated on his porch.
Once Derek and I were knee-deep in love, the porch swing was where I’d chill and eat sushi on weeknights while he ate something healthy and we talked about God-knows-what. Or it was where we sat on Saturday mornings and sipped coffee after spending the night together. It was where I got to know his roommates and where I wiggled my way into conversations his friends were having while we were all pre-gaming.
One coffee-filled morning on that porch, perhaps on that porch swing, I told Derek that if he was ever going to propose to me, he should do it on that porch.
Of course, as it regards proposals, I was expecting one at every turn of this trip to New Orleans. I had rationed it all out in my head. That was why he wanted to go to that restaurant, or why he packed that shirt or why he kept leaving the room when he was on the phone with his parents. It was coming. I felt it in my bones and in my heart and in the gloriously warm Louisiana air.
But then, it wouldn’t be a surprise, right?
Would I cry?
Omg, what if I don’t cry?
My nails aren’t even looking that good…
When Derek convinced me to rally on Sunday night so that we could go to the bar that EVERYONE was telling us we had to go too… my suspicions began to rise.
When he changed out of his casual apparel for a button up and khakis, my suspicions grew even higher.
And when we reached the top floor of the Pontchartrain hotel and saw the jaw-dropping view… I was convinced.
It’s going to happen.
He’s going to propose.
We ordered proseccos and breathlessly took in all of New Orleans, Louisiana on that comfortably warm night. Derek looked pensive and I was making comments on how romantic all of this was.
And then he turned to face me and made soul-piercing eye contact like only he does. Before I knew it, my hands were in his hands and his gaze was shifting to his pocket.
It’s totally happening.
I felt blood rush to my face and I started to lose control of my jaw. But just before I could commit to tears, Derek started to smile… and then laugh… and then hit me with a “I’m just kidding.”
The day Derek and I spent intoxicated on Bourbon Street was definitely the most fun. Obviously. You know how porch swings are my symbol for our relationship? Vodka Diets might be another symbol. I know my Mom’s not gonna love reading that, but, I mean, it’s the truth. We had a lot of fun. And I think it was because we weren’t worried about anything except for having fun. And nothing says “I just want to have fun” like vodka mixed with anything.
If you caught the video, you saw me failing at riding a mechanical bull. I barely remember that. You also caught us talking about the random girls we ended up hanging out with. They approached us on the dance floor of one of those popping-at-four-PM-dance-clubs to tell me that Derek looked like a hot Huck from Scandal, and to tell Derek that I was gorgeous.
Flattery got them everywhere, obviously. I told them I looked gross, because I did. I was wearing an Homage sweatshirt and Nike cropped workout pants and tennis shoes. They contested and I don’t really remember the rest. But I do remember ubering home that night and ordering Subway from Uber Eats and talking to Derek about every thought that floated into my mind, and vice versa. I remember staring into his eyes and just thinking, “this is all I want.” Subway and Derek.
Leaving NOLA was bittersweet, obviously. I wanted to be in our own home, so badly. There’s nothing like going away to make you love home. And, usually when I travel, “home” just means Derek. His arms and his smell. But this trip made me realize how much I love my actual house. Er… townhouse. The concrete walls and the cold wooden floors and our leather couch and the way our TV sits on the non-functioning-fireplace-mantle. I just wanted to exist in my space. I hadn’t felt that way in a long time. Not since I was little and lived at home with both of my parents and my brother. I thought that was noteworthy.
However, leaving vacation meant facing my bank account and work the next day and alarm clocks and… worse of all… not spending all of my time with him.
Luckily, I guess, our flight got delayed. We spent our Monday in Louis Armstrong airport, taking turns watching the bags and running around to get food or stretch our legs. I tried to pretzel myself in one of those bus-bench-like chairs in the terminal. It obviously did not work.
The flight home was cold and even more nerve-wrecking than the flight there. Derek dozed off but I was too scared to fall asleep.
His parents met us at the airport. They were third in a long line of headlights waiting to take someone home. His mom opened the door and sort of squealed when we got close enough to the car. They lovingly drove us about 25 miles back to our neighborhood and insisted on taking us out to eat.
I fought off fatigue with a hot dog and chilli cheese fries that I split with Derek’s dad. Comfort food. We talked little about the trip and instead decided on things like Christmas presents. (We’re getting them a coffee maker.)
And that was it. They took us home. To our candles and our shower and our normal smelling house and to each other. Where we belong.