Saturday, August 29, 2015

My NOLA at #K10

My few words on this day where many are having indescribable feelings and experiences are surely of little comfort and even simple bearing on any, save myself, but I do feel moved to share some of my observations.
I was not here during hurricane Katrina. I was in Milledgeville, GA, watching with great stress what was about to happen and what did happen. Though I'll never understand exactly what NOLA went through, I did understand some and it hurt because, being from Charleston and having experienced our massive devastation of hurricane Hugo in 1989, I understood what many in land-locked places had never experienced. I felt, as many "outsiders" did, helpless to do or say anything that would or could make any positive difference. That year, I had my Central HS choirs give performance benefits to raise money for Ben Franklin HS, not knowing that 9 months after this day, I would have signed a contract at UNO and be making three trips to New Orleans to search for scarce housing. There were boats and refrigerators and half of some houses in the streets. Charleston had prepared me for this. What it couldn't prepare me for was having students who returned throughout the year, some of whom came home in September to find to skeletons of "lost" family members dead in their own houses. It couldn't prepare me for the anger that so many felt and (and feel) and shared quite openly at the drop of a hat. It could not prepare me for the blank eyes of shock and the thread of hopelessness that was still here. Many thought I was crazy to move here after what you were going through and the full aftermath of wrongs that befell the city's residents (insurance, dislocation, despair, U.S. FAILS, etc.) and wondered if I'd be here long. I wondered too.
I came.
I stayed.
I learned.
I watched. I watched as you picked up your feet and began walking again. I watched and participated as the city stumbled and grabbed hold of its spirit again. It may sound silly, but I feel like I saw a haze in your eyes lifted after about six years. I've seen you smile again (especially on the streets after the Superbowl win!). You rose from it all into a resurrected and thriving city full of returned and vibrant communities. There is much work still to be done, but we do it together. One of the things I appreciated seeing around facebookland this week was that while "Katrina was big, God is bigger."
New Orleans is home to me.
I was welcomed and accepted (even my puns) smile emoticon
I absolutely love living here and it was the best move I've ever made! It is a noble, crazy, cultured, inclusive, and exciting city. It has been broken and yet it stands the test of time with grace. I hope to do that too! (Photo taken on my first drive through the ninth ward the first week I got here) ‪#‎Katrina10‬ #K10 #Katrina