This past weekend my wife and I took a mini-vacation to New Orleans. The city of Cajun cooking, voodoo and vampires, ghosts, ghouls, and many inebriated humans. Some may say all the lore and superstition surrounding the city is nothing more than fanciful stories (or perhaps the overactive imagination of a few drunks). Yet the city’s vampires are real, and least for me, courtesy of my anxiety.
Don’t get me wrong, I loved the vacation. The cooking was everything people had said it was, the people were friendly, and the atmosphere was one of a Caribbean city, rather than an American one. It was a welcome respite from the daily grind. It was a chance to experience a new place and a new culture, which I relish. And given the chance I would certainly go back.
Yet the city was unfamiliar and full of energy. It was crowded and chaotic on Bourbon Street and Frenchman Street, one of the reasons we tried to avoid those areas except for the first night (because you can’t go to New Orleans without at least saying you’ve seen the chaos). And when combined with my ever present anxiety, these things slowly sapped my energy, just like a vampire.
The medicine and therapy definitely help. If it hadn’t been for them the whole trip likely would have been jarring to me from the begging, instead of slowly getting to me. And while it did erase some of my work tension, it nevertheless left me exhausted and deeply pleased when I was home and could sleep in my own bed. There I was able to regain the energy my vacation’s vampires took from me.
And yes, I know that many people are probably thrilled to sleep in their own bed after a long journey. I know I am not the only person with anxiety who has traveled, and felt the slow drain caused by my anxiety from those travels, even if they were travels of my own choosing. Yet so often people assume that vacation is fully recharging, unaware of the vacation’s vampires that lurk in the shadows, because those stories aren’t told. And while vacation is recharging in certain ways, it isn’t so straightforward to say that it left me completely relaxed and ready for more. Yes, I look forward to my next vacation, because such experiences are necessary, and enjoyable once the specter of anxiety has left. But as much as I look forward to my next vacation, I’ll also be looking forward to sleeping in my own bed at the end of that vacation.
P.S. I do highly recommend New Orleans to anyone who hasn’t been. If you go, I recommend the tour of St. Louis Cemetery No. 1, supposed resting place of Voodoo Queen Marie Laveau and a fascinating collection of the city’s history.