Where do I even begin, because no other state can compare to you?
I've grown up here, and I have been molded and shaped by everything from its geography to its people and their general joie de vivre. And for a majority of my life, the things here are what I have come to know and hold so dear to my heart.
And there's so much to say, and only so much space I have to say it.
First and foremost, I love you for your people. A people so in love with life and so genuinely happy to be where they are. A people who are always energetic and always ready to parade through the streets to celebrate the very fact that they are alive and surrounded by people of like minds. A people who are all their own, and better off for it. A people who have taught me so much of life, love and happiness.
I love you for your culture. You are a melting pot of so much diversity. It's taught me to love all people from all walks of life, and to value the beliefs and traditions of everyone. Your food, your music and your way of life are so uniquely its own. The exposure to so many different varieties has made me a more open minded and well rounded person.
I love you for your lay of the land. From the rolling hills in the northern part of the state to the muddy marsh wetlands and dense sultry swamps at the bottom of the state, the variety of geography is so wonderfully odd, and it has educated me to see the beauty in all parts of this world. I've learned to fully appreciate every type of landscape I can, thanks to you.
I love you (most days) for your heat and humidity. I love your bipolar winters (as in, 18 layers in the morning, shorts and a tank top by mid afternoon) and scorching summers. You taught me how to appreciate the sunshine on my shoulders, bask in the warmth of spring and/or the blistering heat of summer days. The memories of my childhood are filled with jumping off of the pier and into Lake Pontchartrain, or tubing and knee boarding with friends, because it was just another way to cool off. Or going out for drives to get SNOW BALLS, because everywhere else, they're "snow cones," and that's just outright incorrect. I can't imagine living somewhere and not having to straighten my hair more than once in a single day.
I love you for your absolute insanity and ferocity in celebrating everything. I love you for having parades for everything, not just Mardi Gras, because catching cabbages at the St. Patrick's Day Parade is absolutely a thing that can only be described as normal here. And the festivals! Oh my God, the countless festivals throughout the year... This is a place where it's actually bizarre to not be celebrating something on a weekend. After all, we are famous for those, "Louisiana Saturday Nights," aren't we?
I love you for your southern hospitality and manners. I love going to other states and being looked at like I'm insane when I respond with, "yes ma'am" or "no sir." I love being in a place where it's strange if someone doesn't hold the door open for you and even weirder if you're not holding the door open for someone else in turn. And I especially love watching other people try to pronounce the words that are so common to us (Natchitoches, Thibodaux and Tchoupitoulas have always been my personal favorites). But thank you for being a place where learning the importance of being polite is a huge part of growing up.
I love you for all of these things and countless others.
I could write about you forever if I had the time. The things that make this state so inexplicably and undeniably wonderful have helped me grow into who I am today, and I would have never wanted to grow up anywhere else other than this beautiful place.
So thank you, Louisiana, for a life that I have loved every second of. I'm thankful for all that you have given me.
You are my home. You always have been and you always will be my home.
And I will always carry you in my soul.