Something I never thought I would ever forget. Today, thank you NPR, is the 8-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. Stepping, sight-unseen into the August heat six years ago, I had no idea what I was getting into.
New Orleans brought heartbreak, confusion, struggle, rebirth, midnight street dancing, soul-vibrating music and the best transition into post-college adulthood I didn’t know I needed.
Moving in with three strangers to share space, food money, loosely-defined spirituality nights was about as far from the Real World as you can imagine (okay, we did shotgun some beers). Although hindsight offers rose-colored glasses, that year with those women was one of the most difficult, but most rewarding experiences of my life.
Witnessing the recovery of a city that still housed FEMA trailers on my block in 2008 profoundly altered the vision of my country – what we can, or really what we will, do for each other.
For most, it was just too difficult. Too removed. Too far from daily life to be watched closely. Such a unique and long-troubled city maybe should just be “relocated” (to use one of the nicer things I heard from people when I said where I lived).
Words said without empathy or an understanding of New Orleans as the tortured, beautiful, pulsing heart of this nation.
You can take New York, LA, San Francisco, Miami, Chicago, even my beloved Portland – no other city lays bare the strange, sad, ridiculous state of America, but parades in the face of it.
No other place have I been swung onto a dance floor by multiple strangers only to be swung off when the next Zydeco song started with a simple “Thank you, baby.”
No other place could keep me up for a 3am start time for a show after a day of Mardi Gras grilling, laughing and catching.
No other place stares real, deep, pain in the face and lets Kermit loose with jambalaya and a trumpet.
No other place embraced this lost, questioning, unmoored person; righted her, and sent her on her way – with a little lagniappe stitched forever on her soul.