I’ve spent so much of this past week thinking about this city I love, and the approach of the five-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina hitting land, but now that August 29 is coming to a close, my thoughts and feelings are still in a muddle. It’s too much to put into words. The sadness is still here, and I suspect always will be – thinking about the individual tragedies, many caused by inequities and unprepared and failed systems. The rain of the past three days has reflected the fullness and overflowing of my emotions.
But the emotion is not limited to sadness. I’m also so very thankful, to be a part of this city, and to have it as a part of me. Even with all of its shortcomings, I love it to my core. Despite this great love, I think if it weren’t for the storm, I wouldn’t have come home 4-1/2 years ago. There are things about life here that frustrate me, and I sometimes focus on all still left to be addressed in the rebuilding effort. But when I think back to the early days of my return and the constant dust clouds and grit in the air (and water) and the lack of people and life, I can see how far we’ve come. I’m grateful to have been here then, and that circumstances led to our still being here.
I love that I live in the “crazy old lady’s house,” five blocks from my parents. I love that I can go to an interfaith service for the five year anniversary and hear about the gospel of Brees. I love that our wall has a cardboard fleur-de-lis custom painted and glittered by MrMan. I love that the deep potholes are marked with palm fronds. I love that, late at night, I can hear ships blowing their horns on the river. I love that even our mediocre food tastes good. This is the place that holds my history.
Five years ago today, I thought New Orleans was virtually untouched. In some of the ways that matter, I was right.