Native New Orleanians, have a high level of street smarts, an ultra awareness of our surroundings...and also love to adorn ourselves festively. Thus the Love Club was born.
I was born and raised in New Orleans, Louisiana. Although I’ve been in Southern Oregon for over a decade, I still consider New Orleans home and myself, a NOLA Girl. You’ll find me adorned in Saints black and gold on Sundays, I currently have boudin and andouille in my freezer, I know how to fish and how to costume. I also know how to watch my own back.
New Orleans is not considered a safe city. The St. Rock in the 8th Ward was my last home in NOLA before coming out West, and it was challenging. I could not call a taxi to my house. They wouldn’t come. My daughter didn’t learn to ride a bike before we moved, due to the streets being in complete disrepair. There were no sidewalks and often, there were shootings.
I came home to my block being roped off by police tape more than once. I became completely desensitized to the sound of gun shots. Coming home at night, I would drive by my house to make sure no one was lurking, make the block once again, and then park.
And this was considered completely normal.
Even when I grew up in my uptown neighborhood, we had a private security watchman who I could call when I was on my way home and he would meet me at the house, and make sure I got in safely. I am one of only a few of my friends who was never mugged, held up at gun point, or car jacked.
I had a few close calls. I pulled over once in the lower garden district to call a friend for directions, looked in my side view mirror, and saw a person crouched down, creeping up the side of my car. I looked in the other mirror, and there was another guy on the other side as well. I burned rubber and was thankful that I’m mindful of my environment.
I had friends endure violent attacks that were life changing, some of which I still have a hard time talking about, to this day.
Once, walking alone at night, back to my French Quarter apartment, a kid pulled out a gun in front of me with, I believe, an intention to rob me. He looked more scared than I was and ended up running away.
Our car windows were broken more times than I can count. And these were the benign occurrences. I had friends endure violent attacks that were life changing, some of which I still have a hard time talking about, to this day.
Before we moved to Oregon, I had no clue how much stress we lived under or how much stress I spent my childhood in. I still cannot leave my car or my house unlocked, no matter how many people roll their eyes. I AM ALWAYS looking over my shoulder while walking by myself, and I consistently check out my surroundings before I get in or out of my car.
You can take the girl out of New Orleans but New Orleans will never be taken out of this girl.
Shortly after we moved to Oregon, and my daughter was quite young, I pulled up to my house, and got out the car to gather her and the groceries. The landscapers across the street started yelling because one of them had turned the water on before they were ready. My first instinct was to grab my child, and run into the house. Yeah…Oregon was an adjustment.
“Only a NOLA Girl could come up with this gem.”
When I first introduced the Love Club, my peeps from NOLA understood it. In fact, anyone I knew that lives in a city got it, but I was questioned within my own small community a few times. “These are so cute, but I can’t imagine why on earth I would need one,” was one such comment. “What exactly are these for?” was another. I think people who question them have never had an urban living experience, or have just been in this place, that we refer to as “The Shire”, for a long time.
“Only a NOLA Girl could come up with this gem,” was a comment I saw when the Love Club was shared by someone on social media. Yup, that may very well be true, for a few reasons.
One: It makes sense that a woman who grew up in a place where danger could literally be hiding behind her trash cans and slept with a red aluminum baseball bat beside her bed, would come up with something to help women feel safer.
Two: It also makes sense that a woman who costumed on the regular and whose main creative outlet was making costume accessories would also think that if she has to carry around a visual deterrent, it may as well also be fabulous looking.
But actually, it goes a bite deeper than that. I don't remember ever in my life feeling 100% safe. Still to this day, when I get home alone, I search my house before settling in, including checking closets, showers, and under the damn bed (you know, in case a small murderous child is hiding under there). Paranoid? Maybe. But God help the sucker I find.
I, along with most women, get unwanted sexual attention from strange men that comes in the form of whistles, cat calls, ugly looks, and inappropriate comments.
I also, pretty regularly, don’t feel safe walking down the street. I, along with most women, get unwanted sexual attention from strange men that comes in the form of whistles, cat calls, ugly looks, and inappropriate comments.
A couple of weeks ago, I gave a man, who said he was a hungry veteran, a few bucks to get something to eat only to have him thank me by looking me up and down while saying, “Oh you are just. too. fine.” Dude, I’m trying to be nice here…
My point is that there is a myriad of reasons to carry the Love Club. Mine is that is simply makes me feel safer. Not so much because I’m ready to swing it, but because I know from growing up in NOLA that not making myself a target is as important if not more important than being able to defend myself during an attack.
I would rather just avoid the attack. I mean, if I were a predator, and I saw two women walking down a dark street, one of whom is carrying a bat…well…I’d probably choose to avoid her and move on to the easier looking target.
That was my reasoning when that ugly red aluminum bat would go with me when I had to walk from my French Quarter apartment to my car, early in the morning or late at night. I figure if I wouldn’t mess with me, neither would the scary dude hanging in the alley looking for a target.
I hope if the Love Club didn’t make sense to you before, it does now. You may not feel you need one, and that’s cool. You’re lucky to live in a safe place where you don’t feel threatened ever.
The photo at top is of the lovely Sabel and Jackie with the first two Love Clubs ever made. Sabel, the original inspiration for the Love Club, carries hers while walking her dog in the park, and Jackie brought hers on the road with her during her solo Summer van adventure.
In the comments below, I love for you to tell me what you do to feel safe in the world.
If you’d like to get onto my waitlist for the next batch of Love Clubs, and get early access to the next Love Club sale, click HERE. They will be ready in October, just in time for the sketchiest of all holidays, Halloween.
I am an artist and writer, living in Talent, Oregon with my husband and daughter. I use creativity to break through anxiety paralysis. I play in the ocean to stay strong and inspired, and I often visit my hometown of New Orleans, where the rhythm of my heartbeat is renewed. Follow me on Facebook and Instagram where I post stuff sometimes. To hear from me more regularly, join me on this crazy, beautiful Artventure.