Last weekend I went to New Orlean’s Jazz Fest with four other women. This was my first Jazz Fest experience. I have typically stayed away from such events – never keen on masses of hot, sweaty, inebriated bodies all vying for the same small piece of lawn. I agreed to go despite 45 plus years of ‘I wouldn’t like it’ self-talk. My weekend extravaganza coordinator’s enthusiasm was infectious; her tales of ‘last year’ were too much too bear, and I found myself buying airline tickets.
Our group stayed in the Garden District in a charming home. Finding a place to stay in New Orleans can be tricky. Deciding on the location, how close or far from the French Quarter is a critical component for me. I have noted a gradual ‘moving away’ from the Quarter with each passing year. All The Rooms is a great site I’ve recently stumbled upon that does a fabulous job consolidating every accommodation—hotel, vacation rental, couch or hammock—into a comprehensive list. All in one place.
As advertised by my friend, the weekend was chock full of great food and drink, loads of laughter, beautiful weather, and incredible music from the likes of Sting, Bonnie Raitt, Leslie Odom Jr., ‘AND MANY MORE’. What was not ‘promised’ by my cruise director, Julie McCoy, and what proved to be my true joyful delights were buried inside my ‘and many more’.
Never Too Old To Make New Friends
I was the ‘Fifth Wheel’, metaphorically speaking. These four women go back in time – and, I mean back. Three of them have known each other since high-school; two for over 25 years. I came in as the newbie; having known Laura (the hub) a mere 10 years. Yup, a mere 10. But, at 53 with 40 year-old friendships of my own – 10 is ‘newish’.
As expected, given the combination of well, ‘they’re women’ AND well, ‘they’ve known each other a life-time’; a multitude of short-hand conversations punctuated the weekend. Many of them went over my head. Although, I did start to make connections: “Oh, that’s the guy everyone hated.” or “That was the girl with the acne.” What amazed me was how freeing not being in ‘the know’ felt. I could tune in if I wanted; or not.
I am typically in friend groups where I am privy to the short-hand; where I am the hub. I would have guessed that being on the outskirts would have created a feeling of insecurity or more accurately; ‘why bother? I don’t need new friends; I have plenty’. I was wrong. Instead, what I discovered was yet another group of amazing, loving, fun, intelligent women to share time and space.
It’s Fun To Be A Girl
My close women friends aren’t ‘girlie-girl’ types. Until last weekend, I had no idea what I was missing. The time with these new friends was awash with beauty/fashion tips and new product demos. Everything from the best hairdryer/curler combination to an eyebrow enhancer to a spray melatonin to aid in all that menopausal sleep deprivation. Had I known; I would have added a shopping budget to the overall trip.
These new found treasures are so exciting that I have to share them here – with all you Kuel Women. The hair dryer/round brush combination was magical. Hopefully, others are not as clumsy as I – I had difficulty getting the direction of the brush ‘right’ – ending up with some tangles and a randomly hanging contraption in my head a few times. I eventually figured it out. And, believe me when I say my hair looked like I had a professional blow-out.
This Maybelline Brow Precise Fiber Volumizer may be the best almost $10 you’ll spend. It not only fills in thinning areas in your brows; it adds volume – for reals. Think a la Brooke Shields back in the day.
This little gem might be the best thing I’ve ever taken to bed. I am plagued with hormone-induced insomnia. Not unusual; many women our age suffer from and live with the torture. I don’t have trouble falling asleep but awake, like clockwork, anywhere between 1:30 and 3:30 AM. A few sprays and minutes later I’m out.
TaeKwonDo Fundamentally Changed Me
As I’ve made clear, crowds are BAD. At 5’2 I have struggled with any event that put me in the midst of what feels like a human bumper car game. The notion of Jazz Fest had never appealed to me. My fun-loving, always up for an adventure, friend’s zest swept me into believing I’d enjoy myself. I went in with trepidation. I came out self-assured.
Without realizing it, I found myself confident and at peace in the thick of the throngs. The cognitive dissonance jumped out at me. As I stood sandwiched by swarms of clammy festival goers it dawned on me that I wasn’t apprehensive – at all. If I needed to; I could get out of there. If I needed to; I could slide around, scamper underneath, or jump over, any of the human obstacles in my way.
I am a third degree black belt in TaeKwonDo. I haven’t actively trained in over three years – aging isn’t kind to head-level kicks. That being said, the ten years I did spend kicking, punching, being kicked, being punched, devising/executing self-defenses etc.. essentially altered my perception of danger. In a good way.
New friends, teen-age like enjoyment of being a girl, a life-long belief system discredited…. While not showcased along side Aerosmith or Aretha Franklin as headliners to be enjoyed by the masses, these three surprise personal guest appearances left me wanting ‘and many more’.
Yes, plans for Jazz Fest 2019 are in the making.