Both of our kids have chosen to make their homes in the cities where they went to college. It is not a certainty that these will become their permanent homes, but for now, New York and New Orleans are the cities that we visit to see our children.
The first time that I visited New Orleans was in August 2005. As we drove into the city that we would come to know very differently, we somehow ended up on Bourbon Street in the middle of an impromptu parade. For me, it was an overwhelming welcome, and I did not know what to think about leaving my child here.
Flash forward eight years. Ali is now a Tulane graduate, a City Year alumni, a seasoned first grade teacher, and a card carrying citizen of New Orleans. In the interim, she has experienced her new city ravaged and then recovering from one of the worse weather related disasters ever to hit the United States. The impact of Katrina, in my mind, cemented Ali’s desire to stay. She, along with many other young transplants, have a love, devotion and a sense of ownership in the recovery. She is a New Orleanian and along the way, I have also grown to adore this city.
Again this year, we spent Thanksgiving in New Orleans. As always, the city served up hospitality and a more than healthy amount of food and drink. We had oysters, po boys, shrimp, boudin, Abitas, day after Thanksgiving bloody marys at our favorite GLBT bar … We strolled the French Market and visited our favorite art coops.
Ali lives in the Faubourg Marigny neighborhood – now referred to as simply, The Marigny. It is sits adjacent to the French Quarter, but it has its own character. The Marigny feels like you’re a part of the neighborhood even if you are just visiting. Houses sit right on the side walk so just walking out your door puts you in the path of community. Like the rest of New Orleans, it has good sounds. We noticed this trip that walking past houses, music spilling from windows tended to be great.
The architecture of the homes in the neighborhood is beautiful. Many of the homes have plantation shutters that run the front of homes from floor to ceiling. There are paint jobs that combine multiple hues to highlight the fancies of each structure. You see so many with symbols of New Orleans pride displayed – Saints flags, Fleur de lis abound. To a person, anyone on the street has a greeting for you – and when you are walking a cute dog, there is typically more of an interaction.
Such an easy place to love.