Home Restores You; I Believe in New Orleans

Tori - Washington, District of Columbia
Entered on September 25, 2010
Themes: hope, place
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I came to a startling realization in April of this year. Unbeknownst to me, I’d been in mourning for the past four and a half years. My wake-up call was the Deep Water Horizon Oil Spill. I’m a daughter of New Orleans. Born and raised in the birthplace of jazz, on the banks of the mighty Mississippi, and in the cradle of a culture so uniquely its own that each child borne by the city is compelled to make it their final resting place.

New Orleans is a city that celebrates the simple joys of life. Family, friends, food, and laughter are its core values. Mardi Gras is but one event on a calendar that honors our patron saints, our dead, our neighborhoods, and our food. Oh the glory we give to the arts! Music, dance, style, creative thinking, writing, and theater electrify us and strengthen the current of our connection.

In the four and a half years since Hurricane Katrina, my connection to the city could be described as tenuous at best. The aftermath of the storm created a diaspora of family and friends struggling in unfamiliar places, with unfamiliar people, and in unfamiliar climates to reclaim home. I’ve returned to the city on only three occasions, to lay my great aunt to rest and to speak at conferences. After each visit I felt restored. Spiritually balanced and rejuvenated, I felt better able to take on the world.

The ever-present moisture of the air, cannoli from Angelo Brocato Bakery, Purple Haze Abita beer, walking along Bayou St. John, and relaxing with friends and family who held on with all their might to stay in the city restored me and replenish the spirit of New Orleans daily.

When the Deep Water Horizon oil spill occurred, “oh no,” not again ran through my mind. I prayed daily for its resolution and checked in frequently with family and friends. And then one day after initial efforts to seal the well failed, my best friend Thomas told me, “Baby, this ain’t no thing”! I couldn’t stop smiling. I woke up grinning the next morning, and every day since.

I’m no longer in mourning. I celebrate the resilience, the hope, and the strength of the people of New Orleans daily by celebrating the simple joys of life and knowing that I carry its spirit in my heart. I believe that home is the place that restores you, and I believe in New Orleans.