I’m sure you have a pretty clear picture in your head when I say NOLA , better yet French Quarter.
Beads, Booze, Boobs and Debauchery.
You’re not far off.
But that is not all the Quarter has to offer. Yes, I say the Quarter like a local because I have earned it (more on that later). There is breathtaking architecture, mouth-watering food, and enough culture to make you literally tear up (I have my moments) but the ways the the Quarter has influenced my personality aren’t in the ways one might assume. Sure, I go out and dance more than I used to and yes, I might curse more than most, but the biggest ways I’ve changed have been a bit more adult.
I’m actually growing up.
The life I live here toughens you up and strengthens your spine. There is no room for dilly dally because if you drop the ball, no one will bend over on your behalf to pick it up. It can be intense but vital in forming your character. Below are the 5 ways the Quarter has changed me.
We all know that I don’t have a car. I practically sing it from the rooftops every chance I get. Not trying to say that I am better for not having one, but…
Anyway, it does change your lifestyle drastically no matter what city you live in simply because you don’t have a huge metal box that accompanies you everywhere you may want or need to go. Living in the Quarter, I have noticed how much I walk. I walk everywhere and have a different opinion of what is far and what isn’t. If it is longer then a 30 minute bike ride, I reconsider how important the journey may be! With all the added activity in my day, I don’t realize how often I am exercising. It has just become a necessary part of my day. Even in my free time I like to move around. Since the Quarter is so visually stimulating, I find myself running in the evenings around 3 times a week. Sometimes I am lucky enough to run right into a brass band playing on Frenchmen for a couple extra coins (this has happened more than you think).
Yes, it can be exhausting to live here for those who are more sedentary and yes, things are a bit inconvenient at times, but that is a part of the charm.
If you plan on shacking up in the FQ get ready to move. If you are the type of person that likes to be driving everywhere or has a disability that prevents you from free movement, I would reconsider living here. Since the city is old, it does not accommodate every person and there needs which is something to be aware of. On a brighter note, public transportation is alive and well here so there is assistance, but walking is inevitable. You have been warned.
I think this point ties in nicely with the previous one. I am much more aware of what I buy. I like to practice simplicity and minimalism in my everyday life so the idea of conscious consumption is nothing new. With that being said, living in the French Quarter makes it even more of a necessity to prepare for your shopping and to decipher essential from not. I have to bring backpacks and extra bags if I feel like I need those few extra items from the grocery store. It might not seem like that big of a deal but I have to be careful with the weight of what I buy because it is all on my back- literally!
I usually just shop for the next few days as far as food is concerned and Amazon Prime has become my best friend for big items. I like it because I feel like I am being more economical in my actions and saving money in the long run.
Don’t get caught up in all the pretty shops and shiny things in the windows down here. Yes, it’s all glorious and eye-catching, but chances are if you purchase something in the Quarter, you are over paying. Even when shop owners know you are local you may get 10-15% off retail, which in many cases, is not much. Don’t be afraid to venture over to Marigny/ Bywater Area for some great secondhand shopping. And as much as we all hate it, Walmart is a healthy bike ride away or you could catch the 91 bus which takes you right in front of the super center. Your choice.
Vieux Carré has a lot of people- A LOT. No matter how much I would like to avoid it, I am surrounded by other humans at all waking hours of the day. It’s not terrible, I like people, but we all have those days where we would rather live in solitude and not have to flash a fake smile to a stranger.
With that being said, I am much better at cordial interactions. I understand how to talk to people from all over in a few languages too! I hear French, English, Spanish, German, you name it, at all different hours of the day. It is not unlikely that I go get kitty litter and have to brush up on my Spanish or say excuse me in French. It’s pretty cool. Living in the Quarter makes me really appreciate that uniqueness NOLA has to offer. It really isn’t like other cities in the US. If you’re not careful, you’ll think you are in Europe.
I like that.
I got bills, we all do, and living in the Quarter is beautiful, but not terribly cheap. I lucked out with my flat. Even though the rent is higher than what I would pay elsewhere in NOLA, it is pretty low for what I have and I am grateful. I say all this to highlight that I have continued to become more responsible in my everyday decisions when it comes to money and just making choices in general. There are times that I have to say no to that lovely cappuccino at that quaint cafe because my electricity bill needs to come first. You know, adult stuff.
I live alone so there is a whole host of things I have to be responsible about because if I don’t take care of it- I’m SOL. The FQ isn’t the safest place on earth so I am cautious with getting around at night and make sure to have my “weapons” handy at all times. It takes two doors with 3 locks to get into my flat and I live on the second floor. All of these things I thought about thoroughly before moving here and I am glad I did. Since I have been here I have seen more arrests then I can count and literally was coming home from the corner store and saw cops take care of a stabbed victim while a second line band was marching down the street the opposite way celebrating a wedding. There is high contrast here which is partly why I love it so much along with millions of others, but you have to keep your head about you. Living here has grown my confidence in my own capabilities to get things done and trust my own fortitude. It helps that I lived half way across the world prior to this as well! Even with that being true, new places pose new obstacles which can challenge even the most seasoned traveler.
I like the person I am becoming and I am happy that I am not an idiot or ignorant to the way the world is. Not to be a pessimist, because I’m not, but there are several women who have their heads in the clouds and wouldn’t know how to handle themselves if someone looked at them wrong, let alone if someone was acting violent. It’s vital to know your surroundings in this part of the city and to trust yourself first. I have learned that the less I smile at creeps, the less I get bothered. lol I ignore those unsavory individuals and they mostly do the same.
In all seriousness, be safe. If you are about to move here to live, don’t get caught up in the fairytale. It’s a place just like any other place with crime and things to look out for. Don’t drink your night away and not know how you are going to get home. People pray on the newbies that assume everyone has their best interests at heart. Don’t be one of those people. I’m not saying to not be friendly or to trust anyone, but NOLA has a reputation. Be smart.
This seems to be an ongoing theme for me. I am constantly working on my patience in some way, shape, or form. This is nothing new. I swear, I’ve said it before, you pray for patience and God gives you situations to practice your patience.
Boy does he ever.
The Quarter has challenged the patience I have with the outside world and has highlighted how much of a control freak I can be.
I plan and then life happens.
NOLA has its own pace of life. Things get done, yes, but on its own time. There is a definite southern mentality when it comes to time here- which I’m still adjusting to. For example, I can check my RTA Go Mobile App for the bus and streetcar times and they are almost always off every time I do. It is a good app to have, but that does not mean that the drivers are able to adhere strictly to the schedule in a similar way that some other public transport does.
In a more existential way, I have grown more patient with myself and where I am in my life. Living here has made me recognize that all I want unfolds in the perfect timing and I can’t force things to happen.
All in all, I don’t feel like the FQ has changed me, I think it helped bring out what was already there.