If you live in New Orleans proper, chances are you or someone you know might suffer from being ‘hood bound. You know the type, the friend that you who won’t meet you for happy hour because they’d have to make a 10-minute drive. Or what about the guy who complains about how much of a trek the Bywater is from Uptown? People become restricted to their neighborhood for a number of reasons. Transportation issues, sheer laziness, or just the convenience factor are all factors that play into turning into a hyper-local. I’m definitely all too familiar with the n‘hood rat mentality because I suffer from periodic bouts of it myself.
I used to live and work in the Garden District, which was both a blessing and a curse. I had a five-minute walk to work and often the longest part of my commute was trying to cross Magazine Street during midday traffic. I lived less than two blocks from the Balcony Bar, which made for fun times of beer and late night pizza and while I slowly eked out the contents of my gas tank by not moving my car for months at a time I also got a little stir crazy. Don’t get me wrong, living walking distance to some of the most popular shops and restaurants in the city was pretty awesome, but it also got old sometimes.
So when I moved I was secretly relieved that I had a longer commute. I get to see different faces and places vs. the same handful of people at the same hangouts. Even just mixing up my route to work affords me the chance of stumbling upon an interesting old house or a tucked away cafe that I’ve heard of but never thought to try. One in-town trek that I’ve been meaning to make is taking the streetcar down to the French Quarter then hopping on the ferry for an early evening jaunt through Algiers Point. Maybe I’ll do it next month when the weather is a bit cooler and I can wear a sweater while strolling along the levee.
Changing zip codes is a lot more motivating when you have an agenda in mind. Give yourself an excuse to leave by perusing event listings, call up a friend that lives on the opposite end of town and meet them in their neighborhood for drinks or just give yourself an extra 10 minutes in the morning to get your latte at a slightly out-of-the-way coffee shop. For the ultimate change of scenery, go on a day trip to the Northshore and ride your bike down Tammany Trace with a stop at the Abita Brew Pub or rent pirogues and take a self-guided swamp tour in Lafitte on the West Bank. New Orleans is a treasure trove of interesting neighborhoods, and the experience of living here can feel that much richer with just a little sense of adventure or even a serendipitous detour.
Christy Lorio, a native New Orleanian, writes on fashion at slowsouthernstyle.com and is also a freelance writer whose work has been featured online and in print magazines both locally and nationally.