Laissez le bon temps rouler!

Stepping off the plane at Louis Armstrong International, I was greeted by the bewitchingly familiar sensation of swimming through air. I breathed in the hot, damp air eagerly savoring the strange comfort it lent to my lungs which had spent far too long in the dry northern air back home. I could hear adventure sliding its way inside my ear and tap dancing on my eardrum to the beat of the nearby second line.

As my mother and I made our way through the growing line of people in search of our luggage and eventually a cab, I decide on the basis of my 16 years of life experience that this summer will be the best time of my life.

There was no way I could have known how much of a turning point in my life that summer would be. Thinking back now, 21 years later as I sat sipping chicory and savoring beignets that tasted just as good as the first time I encountered Cafe Du Monde, listening to the bands marching down Decatur Street past Jackson Square paying tribute to the annual Bayou Classic, I slipped into the citysong. New Orleans is a place that gets into your blood and changes you. You can leave, but she claims a piece of you all to herself no matter where your path takes you in life.

Some people think it’s just about the party, but it’s more than that. It’s the rhythm of life, the pacing, the beat, the swell, the crescendo, the silence…leading the crowd on to the encore.

I learned how to sang, in the Crescent City. When I found my way back, she welcomed me with arms wide open. And though I could only stay a spell, I know now that I can’t let too much time pass before I come back for my encore.

Marta C. Youngblood is a writer, education and social entrepreneur based in Hot Springs, Arkansas. For more information on her current projects visit

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