My brother gave me a wonderful gift. Knowing that I have been overworked and under strain for quite some time, with no real expectation of things changing in the near-ish future, he bought me a plane ticket to go visit him in New Orleans.

I’d never been there, I hadn’t seen him in almost a year, and I desperately needed a vacation, even a little one. So he flew me out to see him and we walked all over town together, just the two of us, having a lovely time.

It was quite an adventure getting there, since my connecting flight out of Dallas (no)Love airport got cancelled due to a severe thunderstorm and the gate agent lied to me about alternative options. But I prevailed and my brother and I coordinated my escape from airport purgatory so that I arrived early Saturday morning instead of late Friday night. Neither of us got much sleep, but we spent a full day walking everywhere (and taking a ferry) and had a great time. Even though we were quite busy, in a way, I found it profoundly relaxing. Not because I wasn’t busy, but because there were no demands being made on me. For 3 1/2 days I was just myself, moving through the world. I felt free.

It was amazing, of course, because New Orleans is all the things it’s reputed to be: a decaying beauty filled with corruption, poverty, and debauchery, and also warmth and life and music. Beautiful and terrible all at once. I can’t wait to go back.