Saturday, August 29, 2009

Song of Unquenchable Desire

New Orleans (and the rest of southeast Louisiana) has always tolerated life with a sense of an acceptable level of tragedy, knowing that each year, some hamlet would flood or a shrimp boat would sink or 500 more residents would be murdered or several more politicians would be indicted but seldom convicted or that someone's favorite restaurant would close or that the school board would find new ways to deny our students the education they deserve or another legendary musician would pass on to the next Big Gig.

All of those, individually and sometimes collectively, were always all bearable...and often were the very things that allowed us to see all the other extraordinarily beautiful treasures around us, even if it was the simple, earnest hello from another local as you passed them on the street. It took me far too long to get over my initial reaction to that--you would never greet someone so idly, so carelessly - especially a stranger - in my former life in New England, without first counting the cost or benefit. For the longest time, I was sure that people were "smiling in my face, but peeing in my cocktail."

I could not have been more wrong.

It is exactly that predisposition of locals (and those who eventually become locals) to engage the rest of the world, to invite y'all to nothing more than a passing pleasantry and make the day the slightest bit better for it.

It is qualities like this, and the desire to take care of each other and every single person who ever sets foot in our fair city, that reassure me that there will always be a kind of Mardi Gras every year, even though it will almost but not quite entirely seem like something I remember...and that the word "debris" will take on other layers of meaning, but will eventually once again become associated with blissfully messy, gut-churning po'boys...that I will marvel at how azure blue the sky is over all the rooftops and think how very lucky I am that the city picked me to live there.

To be sure, for now there is great disquiet in New Orleans, but there is also great desire...is it really any coincidence that the word "Desire" can mean so many different things to so many people on one day, and the all the same thing the next?

One day, the desire will give over to pride - that we did it ourselves. We were here, putting it all back together, rebuilding homes and lives, making new ways, shoring up old ones, making festivals happen, loving our friends...and living.

Truly living.

5 comment(s):

painted maypole

oh. you have captured this bit of New Orleans so beautifully.

4 years.

We will not forget why we stayed.

Jen of A2eatwrite

What a touching post.

Your way with words matches your amazing photographs.

I have a tiny (truly tiny) echo of this living in Michigan and watching our people pull ourselves out of our economic quagmire.

Home spirit can be an amazing thing.

teeshirtonline2012

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