2001 – New Orleans


So I wonder if spotting the “Planner Uniform” of the blue blazer and the khaki pants (regardless of sex) will be turned into a drinking game…? I remember packing for the American Planning Association Conferences. Choosing my outfits was a careful experience. There would be three types of clothes that I would have to pack: 1) The Business Attire – Shirts of respectable length, pants suits, blouses, matching shoes, and purses. 2) Clothes for the Night Life – Dresses or nice slacks, blouses, and boots (I don’t do so well in heels). 3) Casual Wear – If we’re doing our traditional walking tour it was necessary to have jeans or casual pants with comfortable shoes. By the way, ‘Ms. M’ is always good at working an outfit.

Because I was attending the New Orleans APA Conference, my outfits required careful thought. Going back to New Orleans was like going to a family reunion. You know how it is when you haven’t seen certain family members for a while and you know they’re going to want to know what you’re doing or if you’ve changed in some way. Well I was different from the person that I was when I attended school. I think I had surprised Dr. John Wildgen (God rest his soul) the most. He told Kevin how I used to always attend class in a baseball cap. That was indeed my chosen uniform while at UNO – oversized jeans and a baseball cap. Now my old professor was seeing me in a short dress, boots, and a skull cap… I do have a purpose for talking about the clothes, so bear with me.

In my opinion, New Orleans had the best opening ceremony. Unfortunately, it was the only ceremony I remember. Memories of other ceremonies are lost in a haze of food, drink, music, and wall-to-wall planners. I can’t tell one from another. I remember the New Orleans opening ceremony because it was at the aquarium. I just love aquariums. My parents had taken me to practically every one in the northeast. In the future, Kevin will have taken me to every aquarium in the southeast. Anyway, there is nothing like selecting hors de vors and drink while being surrounded by neat, floating, seahorses and jellyfish.

My memories of New Orleans consist of the bowling party with Planning and the Black Community Division and our visits to the French Market, but it was the last day of the American Planning Association Conference that will stay with me forever. That morning Kevin and I had lunch at Zachary’s with ‘Ms. A,’ Ms. M,’ and another fellow planner. It had been the intention for Kevin and me to hit the road right after as it was a long drive back to Atlanta. After taking pictures on the porch and saying our goodbyes, I fully expected for us to head for the I-10 East and out of the city, but Kevin wanted to drive around some more and see New Orleans one last time. I didn’t blame him. After this conference, New Orleans became “our city.” I had already told him my dream of someday owning a house there. After driving the streets of downtown and the French Quarter, taking in the “ah-kit-techture,” we ended up back at Jackson Square. This is where Kevin and I got out of the car and we ended up in front of Saint Louis Cathedral. By then it started to rain, which was okay because I was in casual attire of a shirt, green jeans, and boots for the purpose of the trip home. I had added the baseball cap to protect mr hair from the rain. Kevin took me inside of the church. Ok, nice. Been inside before… Then Kevin took me outside of the church in the drizzle… Just as I really began to wonder what on earth was really going on, Kevin was on his knee on the wet concrete and he asked me to marry him. I got down on my knees and told him yes – me and my baseball cap. Suddenly, the audience that we didn’t even know that we had broke out in applause.

Needless to say, that New Orleans was the best conference I had ever attended.