What it Means to Miss New Orleans

Hurricane Katrina - Part 1

On Sunday August 28, 2005, I sat in a bar in Houston watching the news as Hurricane Katrina bore down on my home. The bar was silent, maybe 15 patrons just staring at the TV – all people that had evacuated their home city thinking we’d be back after a few missed days of work. We had no idea that our homes, our lives, and thousands of others would be jolted by the costliest natural disaster in US history. I can still feel the heaviness inside of me when I spend too much time thinking about what that storm did to all these people. Immediately time was divided into two pieces… Before Katrina and After Katrina. I bounced around for awhile after the storm. My parents were living in London at the time, and I didn’t have a home base to retreat to. People helped me, loved me, and gave me way more than they ever needed to in this time. It’s what everyone was doing. One.Big.Huge.Family.

With the coaxing of my father, I took the plunge and moved to Houston where my uncle had already relocated and had a place for me to get on my feet. Sometimes I still can’t believe I did that. At 25 I wasn’t really seeking out large life changes or all that confident in putting myself out there. I arrived in Houston to a big old bear hug and a nice big hand to hold. All the evacuees found each other – friends of friends of friends making new circles. Strung together with a purple and gold New Orleans thread. I spent the first couple years here shrugging my shoulders with, “Ehhh, it’s Houston, it’s a place to get a good job.” We forwarded Chris Rose quotes, logged thousands of miles on I-10, and cheered on the Saints when they played the Texans in what is now NRG Park. The first question out of anyone’s mouth was “When ya moving back?”, and I’d scheme up ways to make it happen, stretching my weekends in Louisiana until the dusk hours of Sunday when I had to get on the road. When I’m in New Orleans, now its still hard to leave, I get sucked back in full force. You’ll never know unless you’ve called her home.

There is no other place my feet have touched down that make me feel freedom like New Orleans does. She is family, she is the cool breeze on a hot summer night, a snowball with condensed milk, and boiled crabs on the back porch. She is love, she is caring, and the joy of living. She taught me life, to love and to cherish. As we sit with ten years in our rear view, I applaud all the rebuilding in New Orleans. All the heart, the hard work, and desire that flowed out of people unwilling to give up. I also hold deep in my heart all the loss that was experienced at all levels in that beautiful city. It still brings tears to my eyes. And I save my biggest wish for her future. A future that is full of so much brightness and hopefully no more water. My dreams are still full of meeting very old friends at city park for beignets and propping my kids up on their Mardi Gras ladder.

But right now, my family and my home are in Houston. A city working hard to establish beautiful roots and striving for community while growing at a rapid pace. It’s fast and it’s big and it’s exciting, and everything is ALIVE! I’m proud Houston is my home, I’m proud of what it gave to all my people 10 years ago, and I’m proud to be part of where it’s going. My life changed in Houston – a successful career, a husband, babies, and as my life changed my love for Houston grew.

I still know what it means to miss New Orleans. I will always love New Orleans, my children will love New Orleans, and I’ll never stop dreaming of the day I’m back firmly planted in her arms. I raise my glass to you my friends – the survivors, the re-builders, and the red beans and ricers!


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