Three hundred and sixty-five days ago my life changed forever. I was privileged to have a high school and college education. But my life began when I moved to New Orleans, Louisiana. I found the meanings to sayings such as, “ live everyday as if it was your last” or the term “soul mate”. I found friends that became family. My life was in New Orleans and my heart remains there still.
This is a city of faith, hope, and family. I found all three of these in the most unexpected places. I was fortunate enough to work in a true New Orleans restaurant. It was in the walls of its kitchen that I found an older woman who treated me as her own child, and young men who assured my safety home every night. It is their faces I see every night as I fall to sleep in the safety of a town a few hundred miles away from my home. I do not know if they are “ok”, but honestly are any of us? They became “my life” by accident but I will never believe in a complete life without them.
New Orleans took an overindulged girl from southwest Louisiana and taught her the lessons of life. I spent two unforgettable years learning the value of a dollar, but more importantly the value of a life. I learned the cruelties of corporate America, and the unselfishness of the human spirit. I am forever grateful for every memory I have of getting coffee at Rue de la Course, and morning hugs from my staff. It was in their arms that I found the meanings of the words unconditional, family, and home.
I cry sometimes when I think about home, but the tears remain only a minute then a smile comes. It has been 365 days since Hurricane Katrina took my life away from me, but my soul remains, and because my soul remains the soul of New Orleans lives.
This I believe I am stronger person when I am in New Orleans, because my heart is content. I am most content when I am with my family; and I will always be strong enough to face anything when I am in New Orleans.
Charlotte Ogle lives in Lafayette, La. She graduated from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette with a double major in English and history. Ogle is devoted to helping re-build New Orleans and sharing the culture of south Louisiana.
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