How do I love New Orleans? Let me count the ways…
In a difficult time to be a resident of Orleans – the crime, the corruption, the lack of infrastructure, increasing property taxes, outrageous insurance, etc. I don’t need to list it all. If you are here, you are living all the things. People are leaving the city or even leaving the state altogether. I don’t begrudge anyone for going for whatever reason. It’s normal for people to move. Life changes for us all, and what once made sense may no longer.
But did New Orleans ever make sense?
I’m not from New Orleans, and I don’t pretend to be. I understand I could live here for 50 years and never really be considered from here by my neighbors and friends who are generations deep.
I’ve been here almost 15 years, and I moved here simply on a feeling. To be clear, I was in my early thirties, didn’t know anyone, and had never been to Mardi Gras, Jazz Fest, or any festival for that matter. On my first trip here, I had lunch at the Fashion Cafe, so trust me, I am not cool enough to say I came for a killer Jazz Fest and just never went home.
But what I did feel the moment I wandered the streets was an undeniable energy here. I wouldn’t even try to put this feeling into words, but I do believe if she speaks to you and you love her, you’ll always love her. And you may move away, but somewhere in the darkness of night or in the earliest of mornings when it’s quiet, and you are alone with your thoughts, you’ll always miss her.
This is how I explain people moving away and needing to make declarations of everything wrong and what drove them out of the city. Like any grand love affair- when it’s over, we want to blame the other party, point out all the faults and we want everyone else to agree.
I can’t live in a space that focuses on the negative. I moved here, understanding this is a complicated place full of extremes.
The history, the trauma, the joy, the living here is REAL. I don’t need to make sense of her, I don’t need to change her to conform to my comfort.
Do we need to do better to protect the city and the people who live here? YES.
Is there room to grow and improve? Yes.
Do I still love this city? Yes.
Am I frustrated? Yes.
Do I want to leave? No.
New Orleans is where I came into my own. This city will allow, hell, even encourage you to be whoever you want to be. And it also gives you permission to change. When I am away, I physically miss New Orleans. When I look at photos of her, I tear up. When I walk these streets, I am in awe of 300+ years of beauty.
This city knows how to season, how to celebrate, and how to live in the moment. This city made me fall in love with football. Watching the SAINTS win the Super Bowl was one of the most fun days of my life. Now I’m a proud season ticket holder and even went to London to support my team. The younger me would never have imagined this being a big part of my life.
People in New Orleans take their time, they look you in the eye, they speak to you, they will help you even if they don’t like you, they know what it is to lose everything, and instead of being bitter, they will greet you as “baby” and ask about your family.
New Orleans isn’t for everyone, and I’m ok with that. She’s not perfect, but this is home.
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