Sunday, August 29, 2010

Laissez les Bons Temps Rouler

Photo from: GOOD, New Orleans Issue Submissions:

Six-Word Motto for New Orleans

You know how some places call to you, even if you’ve never been there (at least not in this lifetime)? New Orleans is one of those places for me. To be specific, pre-Katrina New Orleans.

Now, don’t get me wrong—I’m not romanticizing the place, nor do I think that New Orleans is only about Mardi Gras, loud raucous streets, good times, and tourists. I know that there were, and are, plenty of problems that are glossed over, and there’s a side of the place that not many get to see.

Even so, there’s just something about the place that whispered to my soul, and sometimes I wish I would have listened and heeded the call.

In the spring of 2005, as I was graduating with my Associates degree, I was contemplating where to transfer for my Baccalaureate degree, and ultimately my Masters degree. I was being recruited by a few Minnesota colleges and universities, and being offered some pretty sweet deals. There were a couple of out-of-state universities who were sending me information too, which was a surprise, considering I'd never contacted them. One out-of-state place was Tulane University, which offered me what amounted to almost a complete full ride. The catch, of course, was that we’d have to relocate to New Orleans.

At the time, Steve was working from home, so he could have gone anywhere, just so long as there was an internet connection and phone lines. We seriously discussed moving later in the summer so that I could go to Tulane, but in the end decided against it because it would be too far from his family, with whom he is very close.

It turned out to be a very good choice.

Today marks the 5-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina making landfall in Louisiana, Mississippi, and all along the Gulf Coast. If we had moved, we would have been there for about 2 weeks prior to that. Judging by how not-smoothly our previous moves have been, everything would still have been in chaos, and mostly in boxes. We would have lost most everything. I look at the news footage from then and my heart just aches. I can’t even begin to get my head around what those who rode out the storm went through. I was very alarmed at the ferocity of the storm when my family was caught in the edge of a tornado this summer, and all I had to worry about was whether or not the car was going to flip over. Compared to those who were there when the full force of Katrina hit, we got off easy.

So much was lost: lives, houses, belongings, faith, and some of that intangible essence which made New Orleans just one of those special places. Although some rebuilding has taken place with more to come, I know that it won’t ever be the same.

Yet, sometimes when I stop and listen, I can still hear her siren song calling me.

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