Apparently I’m A Flapper In New Orleans

“It’s also a great reason why changing a habit on a vacation is one of the proven most-successful ways to do it,” he says. “If you want to quit smoking, you should stop smoking while you’re on a vacation — because all your old cues and all your old rewards aren’t there anymore. So you have this ability to form a new pattern and hopefully be able to carry it over into your life.” – Charles Duhigg, The Power of Habit

I never planned to write about my travel experiences while on this vacation. In fact, I have some unrelated posts in the drafts box that I planned to publish. It just so happens, that ideas are presenting themselves.

As we approached the streetcar for our first (ever) ride yesterday, Josh mentioned that I should write about “Travel Identity.” The concept piqued my interest. I remembered reading that if you wanted to start a new habit you should do so on vacation because you are removed from your daily triggers. Thus, allowing you more cognitive flexibility.

I am curious what this means for us in terms of our health while on vacation.

I wonder if part of the reason vacation is so healthy, is that we are free to step off the hamster wheel for a brief time. There is certainly a heaviness that comes with daily structure and there must be something healthy about being free from that. I find that I give myself permission to do things that I would not do otherwise.

For example, I have wanted a black flapper style hat with netting since we traveled to Paris a few years ago. We searched the stores, but I could never find just the right one. Instead, I bought a wine colored hat with some netting. It was not exactly what I wanted but it was still a fabulous hat. Our first day here we were exploring the French Quarter. I saw a store with hats in the window.

There it was: A black flapper style hat with netting.

“Flappers were a “new breed” of young Western women in the 1920s who wore short skirts, bobbed their hair, listened to jazz, and flaunted their disdain for what was then considered acceptable behavior. Flappers were seen as brash for wearing excessive makeup, drinking, treating sex in a casual manner, smoking, driving automobiles, and otherwise flouting social and sexual norms” – Wikipedia

I bought the hat and wore it out of the store. I turned up my red lipstick and hit the streets and bars of New Orleans. It is pretty unlikely that I would do this where I live. What if someone saw me? It was not until the next morning on the street car that I wondered if buying and wearing that hat was a form of travel identity. Symbolically, my dog ate the last netted hat when I returned to my everyday life. Maybe he did this to say, this does not belong here.

I don’t think travel-identity is about running away or denying your real life-identity. It is about letting yourself be open to new experiences, trying new food, talking to new people, seeing new things, and allowing yourself to see how all of it feels. If you need me this week, I will be riding streetcars wearing a black hat and red lipstick.

“Self-identity is inextricably bound up with the identity of the surroundings.”
Lars Fr. H. Svendsen, A Philosophy of Boredom

“We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be.” Kurt Vonnegut, Mother Night


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