Dear New Orleans,
The nation has turned its attention your way because ten years ago Hurricane Katrina tried to wipe you off the map. Presidents, current and former, visit and tour and speak amid reminders of the city's uneven recovery. Media outlets create splashy features. Everyone seems to have something to say.
I've written about you on many occasions but today I'm writing to you. My beloved New Orleans, how can I possibly express what you mean to me? From my first glimpse of you as a new bride I've been in love. Love is never entirely rational but there are many reasons to love a city like New Orleans.
- Hurricane parties - We attended one on Bourbon Street the Saturday before Katrina. We had made what plans we could so what else was there to do but dance with new friends?
- Mardi Gras - This annual celebration is anticipated each year with a fervor beyond reason. Your people never seriously considered skipping it that first year post-Katrina and it served as notice to the rest of the nation that New Orleans would rise again.
- Courage - It takes courage to live in a place below sea level. And it took courage to come back to neighborhoods totally wiped out, rebuild and plant flowers when no one else was back yet.
- Rhythm - Life in New Orleans ebbs and flows, with an occasional crescendo that will leave you breathless.
- Louis Armstrong International Airport - You've just gotta love a city whose airport greets you with New Orleans jazz (sometimes live) and the smell of Lucky Dogs.
- Costumes - Dressing up isn't just for children and Halloween. It's also for random Tuesdays.
- Living in the moment - Life can be rather unpredictable in a city like New Orleans. Best enjoy each moment as it comes and not worry too much about the future. Sip cocktails with friends in a courtyard, watch the boats on the river, spend an afternoon listening to live music in a dark bar, stroll the Quarter with absolutely no plans or direction, say "yes". To everything.
- Acceptance - Differences aren't just tolerated; they are embraced.
- Food - Oh, my goodness! What can I possibly say about the food that hasn't been said a million times before? Let's just say that New Orleans has forever ruined me. Never again will I be happy with bland, poorly seasoned food.
- Parades - Any day, any time, any reason. Or no reason at all.
- 25 cent martinis - At lunch.
- Music - "Without music, life would be a mistake." New Orleans takes this Nietzsche quote to heart and the world is richer because of it.
- People - You can't know New Orleans if you don't take the time to know her people. Friendly, generous, accepting and joyous. The people of New Orleans will call you darlin' and remind you that life is best lived in community with others.
So today, as the world remembers Katrina, I'll be thinking about you. You stole my heart so long ago but I've willingly given you my soul. Take a moment to remember but then shake it off. Sackcloth and ashes are not your style.
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