…it’s getting better all the time! (Thanks, Beatles!)
Life here in Southeast Louisiana is beginning to resemble civilized society again. Politics aside (they’re still unbearable), the people are waking from the long sleep. We’re coming off of auto pilot and making conscious decisions about what to do to make our lives, and the lives of our loved ones and neighbors, better in this brave new world. It IS a new world: the old has been washed away, the new has come on the sweating, breaking backs of the people who were brave enough to return and do the work. I’ve never been prouder.
That’s not to say that there are not tragic stories: our most frequent social event post-Katrina is a wake/funeral. Our second most frequent social activity is hospital visiting. But happily, running a close third, our favorite social activity is attending the multitude of festivals we have in New Orleans and the surround areas. Our mild weather makes festival going nearly a year-round event. We have festivals for everything. Shrimp, Oysters, Tomatoes, Strawberries, Alligator, Sauce Picante, the French Quarter Festival, the Fringe Festival, the Essence Festival, the Gay Pride Festival, the Indy Movie Festival, the Jazz Fest, the Voodoo Fest, The Crawfish Festival, the Cinco de Mayo Festival, The New Orleans Indy Film Festival, and the mother of all festivals, Carnival, a two-week long festival that culminates on Mardi Gras. Even in-between the festivals, there is always something going on: Pyrate Week, Christmas in the Oaks, Christmas on Fulton Street, Free Music Wednesdays in Lafayette Square, concerts, theater, the best music you’ll find anywhere in our local nightclubs and taverns, and music in the streets at any given time. Yes, we really do dance in the streets down here, and thinik of it as a birthright.
I’ve been crawling out of my hole (my personally owned ex-FEMA trailer) and joining the world of the living again. I feel close to normal. Okay, so I’ve never been even remotely “normal” in my life, but I’m feeling closer to Rhonda than I have been in a long time. That’s a victory for me.
I want to get past the pain, but I never want to forget it. And, I hope that the rest of America never forgets, either. The cavalry was not ready, but the people came in droves. Our fellow Americans came from far and wide to work with us, shoulder to shoulder, to dig (literally) our way out of the refuse of our past lives. We will be forever grateful, and I don’t ever want to forget the love and gratitude, the smiles and the tears that dominated those days when the volunteers hugged us, kissed us, and made the bo-bo on our hearts feel a little better. It was during those times that I was TRULY proud to be an American.
I’m grateful for the wealthy who sent money to help: it really did help. I’m even more grateful for the Brad Pitts and the Sandra Bullocks and the many other celebs who actually came down here, and came back, and came back, and who bought houses so they could stay longer to get the job done that they have started. There are others, you know, who don’t get the news coverage because they don’t want it: they’re here, too, quietly helping where they can.
Thanks, also, to our team, the New Orleans Saints. Yeah, really. That first game after Katrina in the Super Dome…I cry when I think of it. It seems a silly and trivial thing, but the spirit of the team and the fans and of everyone in the region saw the victory as our victory, as a symbol that we would, one day, be okay again. The team members have visited schools, donated shoes, clothes, anything they could to help local children. Their charitable efforts has endeared them to their already insanely devoted fan base. And, we’re having a pretty good year so far!
I can’t forget to thank my online friends. All of you kept me sane when I thought I was going to lose it totally. You were so gracious to read my very personal poems and come away from it understanding and befriending me. You were my therapists back then, you know?
I have to admit, it’s getting better. We still have so very far to go, and I’ll post photos in the coming months to show you. We’re in the fourth year PK (Post Katrina), and we should be safer, but we’re not. But, that’s for another post.
Love from down da road ~ Rhonda