A couple of things have happened in the past month or so that have made me realize that I'm no longer as young as I once was. I'm still a long way away from being old, but I definitely realize I'm getting older.
One of these things was a recent trip to New Orleans for a wedding. I landed a little after midnight on a Wednesday night and, after checking into my hotel, I decided to walk down Bourbon Street. Most of the people I know either weren't there yet or were asleep, so I went by myself and figured I'd get a hand grenade at Tropical Isle or maybe just a beer. This was my fourth trip to New Orleans and as I turned walked down the street, I was reminded of the other three times.
The first time, I was 25 years old and there for Mardi Gras. At that time, New Orleans and Bourbon Street were as close to Heaven on Earth as I had seen. It was fun, loud, and drunk with a great personality. The second time, I was 28 and there for New Years. While I didn't quite think it was Heaven anymore, I still thought it was one of the funnest places on Earth. I got a car and drove all around southeast Louisiana to see Cajun country and get more of a feel for the place. I continued to believe that I would return approximately once a year. The third trip was for my 30th Birthday. On that trip, I still felt the town was very fun, but by now I wanted to mainly sit on the balcony of Tropical Isle and watch the crowds down below. I ate at Emerils and Brennans and found myself spending a lot more time on Decatur Street at the Jazz Clubs.
Then there's this trip. As I walked down a relatively deserted Bourbon Street shortly after 1:00 AM on a Thursday morning, the thoughts going through my mind were something like this: This place is disgusting, it smells like urine and/or vomit, there's nothing but dumbass frat boys, and it's expensive. I figured I wouldn't spend enough money to get drunk so what would be the point of getting a drink? So I walked down to the Cats Meow, from where I could see the Tropical Isle, figured I'd drink more the next night, turned around and went back to the hotel.
I'm not saying this wasn't a wise choice, it's just an older decision. On at least my first two trips, I wouldn't have minded if I was with anyone or what time or day it was, I would've started drinking and figured the good times would ensue. Even on my last trip, I would've had a couple of drinks on general principal. This time I went back to the hotel. And, as predicted, I drank plenty the next few nights and still had a great time. However, each night was either over or pretty close to it by the time midnight hit.
As for New Orleans, I'd say the smaller number of Jazz Clubs is probably the thing I miss the most since Hurricane Katrina. Still a lot of live music, which is one of the things I've always loved about New Orleans - at breakfast, you'll get some jazz, there's zydeco everywhere, and the Bourbon Street clubs play rock at night. Unfortunately, it seems like each missing jazz club has been replaced by a new strip club. And the fact that I whine about this just makes me feel older.
More on my other "old" experience later, but I'll give the hint that it deals with John Mayer's cover of "Free Fallin'"