Ten years ago, the levees broke. New Orleans flooded. And lives were changed, and lost, forever.
I don’t like New Orleans. Nor do I love it. I hate it as only a native can hate something, but still, it calls me home, again and again. My family lives there; so many of my friends live there. And all of them love New Orleans in a way I cannot comprehend.
It took leaving New Orleans not just for the South–I left New Orleans for Texas in 2002–but for the Midwest that made me realize there was something different about being from New Orleans. We talk about it constantly. The flavor of it is in our blood and blood can, on occasion, call to blood.
But as I am adopted, I also don’t believe that blood calls to blood. That it’s all a lie. That New Orleans is just a city, and the people from there are just people.
Then I remember growing up in the streaming lights on St. Charles Avenue during a Mardi Gras parade.
Mardi Gras is, you see, a family holiday for those of us from New Orleans. None of your Bourbon Street “Show Me”‘s for us.
I remember crawfish boils instead of sweet sixteens. I remember parades and festivals, and crime and corruption. I remember people, because New Orleans, it must be said, loves her people. Again and again, she hurts them, but she loves them, too. It’s family, you understand. You can only be hurt by something if you love it. And it loves you.
I was hurt by New Orleans. I moved to the Midwest and found a new home. But I’ll always be from New Orleans. Even now, when someone asks me, “Where are you from?” I say, “Originally? New Orleans.”
I’m a transplanted soul. I went through Katrina and was changed by her. She made me hate and love my hometown, all at the same time.
More than the levees broke that day.