by Niall Doherty


I once met a guy in Budapest. He was like an Australian Brad Pitt, and super cool to boot. I remember thinking, “If I have any gay tendencies, this man should bring them out.” But there was nothing, no attraction. And so I concluded once and for all that women were the only creatures who could do it for me. Now, three years later, in this bar in the Bywater, I’m having to rethink that.


Low energy the past couple of weeks, sleeping a lot more than usual, and productivity has slowed quite a bit. I’m trying to ride the wave instead of fighting it. February and most of March was a flow, right now is the ebb. So I’ll sleep in if I feel like it, take some naps, give myself a break for not being as disciplined as usual. Everything comes and everything goes.


The lads down at Clay Square sure do talk a lot. Some can ball, but most are pretty bad, and lazy. Yet they still talk themselves up. Incessantly. Words from Bertrand Russell come to mind: “The fundamental cause of trouble in the world today is that the stupid are cocksure while the intelligent are full of doubt.” Of course, I could be wrong about that 😉


I stop for a few minutes in the middle of a neutral ground cutting through Cadiz. It’s close to midnight and the city seems sleepy. I stay there, just breathing, feeling a breeze. Somehow, in these moments, it’s easy not to think. I move on and two blocks down pass an elderly man wearing a cowboy hat, standing on his porch. I speak to him, and he speaks to me.


I’m writing a guide about working online. I had a step-by-step freelancing plan in mind, for people who aren’t very computer savvy, who have little/no qualifications. Then I realized I was making a ton of assumptions. The plan sounds good, but I haven’t tested it. So I’ve started a little experiment, coaching a handful of people to earn $10/hour online within three months.

Sunset in New Orleans

Sunset in New Orleans


Meditating in the living room. A thought sneaks in: what if she walks in and sees me sitting here, doing nothing? Won’t she think I’m weird? I catch that thought and break it apart. Where did it come from? Why the concern? I realize it stems from my teenage years, when I was teased quite a bit for anything out of the ordinary. The kid inside me is still scared to defy expectations.


Generally, upon entering a new situation, I’ll take a wait-and-see approach. I look around to see what behavior is acceptable. Even playing basketball, I’ll usually let others set the tone, then see how I can fit in. This can be an advantage in some situations, though not so much on the court. But I wonder: is this tendency natural, or habitual?


Twelve years ago, back in Ireland, I started a little website about my favorite basketball team. I left it in capable hands when I waved goodbye to New Orleans five years ago. Now they have giant watch parties that players and staff sometimes attend, and they exchange emails with the team’s front office. Nice work, Bourbon Street Shots.


Putting together another travel presentation for tomorrow, going back through my photos and Facebook posts from the past four years on the road. Man, some good memories there. Easy to forget sometimes, all the paths crossed, sights seen, breaths taken. It’s been a blast. Even the down times. Those were beautiful, too.


I’m falling in love with The Moth, and live storytelling in general. This one is a gem, makes me think of my cousin and appreciate parenting all the more. I stood up and told some stories to a bunch of people tonight, including my favorite memory from the four years past. A few words, about home and family, made a grown woman cry.

Pelicans watch party in New Orleans, courtesy of Bourbon Street Shots.

Pelicans watch party in New Orleans, courtesy of Bourbon Street Shots.


There’s that hole again, that empty feeling. And my brain’s eager to slap a band-aid on it. Maybe junk food, maybe a movie, maybe that girl I hung out with last night. But no, fuck all of that. Brendan Behan once wrote, “At the innermost core of all loneliness is a deep and powerful yearning for union with one’s lost self.” So let me sit with this a while.


Kelly McGonigal calls it the what-the-hell effect, when you stumble just a little and then say, “You know what, fuck it, I might as well derail this whole damn train!” That’s why you don’t just break your diet with one cookie; you eat the entire pack, and then another. I could very easily have derailed my whole damn train today, but knowledge is power.


Lots of goodbyes this week, leaving this city in two days. I’m ready though. I used to consider New Orleans a second home, but I realize now that home is more about time than place. Stay away from anywhere long enough and familiarity fades. It’s not this city that I love, but the feeling that I once belonged.


I sit and watch ten people tell stories in a packed little theater on St. Claude, thinking there’s a lot of power in a story well told. Makes me want to get back into speaking. But I’ll hold off, for now at least. Greg McKeown has been drilling it into me that I can’t, in fact, have it all. Or in the words of Thomas Sowell: “There are no solutions. There are only trade-offs.”


11:59 p.m. as the megabus pulls out. My last day in New Orleans, and it was a good one. Lunch with the first friend I ever had in this town, then a surprise invite to the biggest ballgame of the season, free food and great seats, home team coming through in the clutch. But it was easy to say goodbye. I woke up this morning excited, ready for the home stretch.

Great seats for my last night in town. Thanks, Gilbert!

Great seats for my last night in town. Thanks, Gilbert!

In the comments below, let me know which of the above Momentos is your favorite. Which can you relate to?

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