Katrina retrospective

I wrote this a few weeks ago and have been letting it cool for a while.  It’s long, but not more than a page.  It’s far from perfect, but it sums up how I’m feeling in a way that is just right.

 

My City

 

            My husband is in the military, and like any military family we use those precious days of leave to return home, and visit the friends and family that we have left behind.  After three years we have it down to a science—pack the car with cat, dog, and their accoutrements, fill the tank, stock up on diet coke and chex mix, and trek south to our homeland. 

            Home is New Orleans—A place that has risen to almost mythic proportions since I have been forced to leave.    The dry winds of Texas would blow and I would miss the wet blanket of New Orleans humidity.  I would miss the lush trees and plants and the balmy weather.  After braving another tornado season or 100+ summer (or worse yet, a snowy winter!), I would wonder why anyone would live anywhere but my beautiful city.  As a military spouse, my greatest worry was that one day I would have children who didn’t know where they had come from.  Would they know the legacy of food, family, and warmth that had been passed on to me?  Would they realize that tailgating wasn’t an event?  It was an art form?  Would they know the appreciation for the past and the easy-going life-style?  Or would they only know suburban waste-lands with chain restaurants and matchy-matchy neighborhoods (I’m not condemning—I live in one now).

            Now I knew the city wasn’t perfect.  My family lived in the suburbs and you couldn’t cross the parish line without receiving a litany of warnings about safety.  Every time I visited, I heard worse and worse stories about the public schools of New Orleans.  Corruption was entrenched as was poverty, and there was definitely a sense that things would be hard to fix.  But no city is perfect and there were many people who retained their hope in the future of this great city—even when they weren’t sure how we would get there. 

            So you probably see where I’m going with this—my last trip to New Orleans was cancelled because the city was sitting in water and even local residents weren’t allowed back in.  I spent hours alternating between crying and talking to my parents about the latest update.  I watched in horror in my school’s faculty lounge as gunmen attempted to take over the city.  I felt the rush of relief when the National Guard finally arrived.  If a city can survive that, then it can survive anything.  A city that is used to obstacles has seen many of them washed away. 

            My family is back.  They rented a crash-pad in Baton Rouge, but found they didn’t like being away from their home.  Their children are grown and raised, but they talk excitedly about the plans for neighborhood schools coming out of the city.  This jewel of a city will regain her luster. 

            When the immediate aftermath of Katrina had passed, I began to mourn for my roots.  My precious city had been washed away and it would never be the same again.  My children will never know the city that I was raised in and grew to love.  I realize now that they will be left with a different legacy—indeed, a more meaningful one.  My children will come from a group of people who would not be simply swept aside.  People who visit the “devastation” talk in hushed whispers about whether the city will come back.  Politicians and housewives in Iowa wonder whether the city “should” come back.  This is a fine topic of conversation, but the facts are that the people are back, and it’s going to take a little more than a category three hurricane to pry them away from their home.    The people are coming back to their home.  They are coming back to the unique accents, sultry weather, delicious food, amazing art, and the warmth. 

            My children’s New Orleans will be a different one.  Their New Orleans will be filled with a strength and appreciation that mine never had.  Those who do not love the city have flown for good, and to them I say, “Good Luck.”  Those who stay in the city will make it theirs again, and I can only be hopeful about that future. 

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About takedeux

In one summer I had a baby who was hospitalized for five weeks, quit my job, and moved back to my hometown. This blog is about starting over.
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One Response to Katrina retrospective

  1. Unknown says:

    Hi, I came across this blog while surfing the web.  I am also a Special Education Teacher.  I live in New Orleans.  Reading this blog brought many memories of how i felt during katrina.  Sitting in the hotel room watching my city that I grew up in and love in complete choas.  The worst feeling was when the news featured "displaced" children and i saw one of my students that had many emotional disorders.  I cried and cried thinking that I lost everything that i ever knew.  My now husband and I just bought a house in June and we were scheduled to be married Sept 17.  I knew that all of our plans would be changed as well as life as we knew it.  We had many questions like would we have a house or a job so we can return to New Orleans.  We stayed away as long as we could by the middle of Septemeber I just had to go back even though the officals said we couldn\’t return yet.  We drove back home pulled up in front of our new home expecting the worst but we only had minor damage compared to many others.  We were very thankful.  We stayed in New Orleans my husbands job did not return so he did not get paid for the three months that our "world stop turning" luckly i work for jefferson parish and we still got paid. I did have to change schools that i worked for because of the student population is down.  I went from a non cat pre school to LD BD 6th grade.  Okay enough about that.  Back to the reason i wanted to make the post.  I love New Orleans and seeing it pick up the peices and grow makes me very proud to call it home!  This is the time that the city needs people that care about the city to stand up and take action so it can be a bigger and better city. 

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