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In line to see Hamilton at the Saenger Theatre

A trip to the Big Easy, not so easy

By Michael Butler

Many reading this will be able to relate. It's that time of change. That time when one prepares for their child leaves the nest.

It's usually tougher on the parents than the children. In our case - my wife and I - our first child is about to head out for college.

I think of one of the most beloved episodes of the "Andy Griffith Show" titled Opie the Birdman. It's the one when Opie had to care for young birds and when they were ready to leave the nest, he had to let them go.

There was a deeper meaning. There was a message from Andy about parenting.

'Let 'em go. Let 'em be on their own like they was (sic) to be,' he told his son.

In a few months one of mine will be leaving the nest, a daughther - Georgia Anne. So for a graduation gift I offered a trip of her choosing.

'New York or New Orleans,' she said.

New Orleans is much like New York - more than just having "New" in the name. They're both expensive, but New Orleans is a drivable trip. The cost to get there is not quite as high, but at five bucks a gallon it's close.

And it worked out that there was a little bit of Broadway in the Big Easy. The stars aligned for the Tony Award-winning hit "Hamilton" in New Orleans. Georgie had actually seen it in New York a few years back with her mother, so it was my turn to tag along.

These guys can not only act but dance, sing and rap - fast (they’re lyrical wordsmiths).

We ate dinner at one of the many fine establishments. Arnaud's was the choice. Yes it was expensive, but my philosphy is, 'live it while you can.'

We even saved a crabcake for the mother as we made the walk back to the hotel. We were hit up for money and food a handful of times.

A great place to eat

One guy asked what was in the bag. He said he was hungry. When I said a crabcake he turned it down and wanted dollars instead. I turned him down. Beggars can't be choosy.

Another exclaimed, 'Leftovers?' He looked genuinely famished. I handed him the doggie bag.

I feel for those who really have hard times. It makes you appreciate what you have even more.

I set up the trip to New Orleans to coincide with orientation at my girl's chosen college - Spring Hill in Mobile. So, on the way back we made a pit stop in the Port City for orientation.

As we were driving by the school, a song came on the radio - "How Can I Help You to Say Goodbye" by Patty Loveless (don't listen, you'll bawl). To steal another line, "It's not goodbye, it's good night." That one's from the movie, "What's Eating Gilbert Grape."

It's not goodbye. Our daughter is not saying goodbye, she's just taking another step for the next stage of her life. It'll be an adjustment for all of us. Like Andy said, 'Let 'em go.'

He's right. He went on to say, 'You did all the right things. I expect they'll be able to fly.'

Opie agreed, 'They're supposed to fly away like you said. I hope I did all the right things.'