Friday, September 2, 2005

This is How I Choose to Remember New Orleans

I am a Louisiana Girl and proud of it. I lived three hours north of New Orleans, but was able to visit enough for it to become a place I loved to go.

It's funny how memories come flooding back (no pun intended) while watching the Katrina coverage. I sit here and think of the time when Joel and I visited while in college. We were visiting his parents who lived in Slidell at the time and went over for the 4th of July fireworks that took place on the Mississippi off of the French Quarter. It rained that day while we were visiting the Riverwalk Mall and we strolled back to our viewing area in a fine mist.

For the three years his parents lived in Slidell, we tried to go into New Orleans every chance we visited. We explored the French Quarter, went to the Aquarium, ate messy benigets at Cafe Du Monde, shopped in the French Market, and ate some of the best food you've ever tasted.

After we got married and had Amanda, we visited my sister-- in law who had moved into New Orleans. I have photos of Amanda playing at the Aquarium, and me shopping at Saks in the Westin Hotel. We took Amanda to the Children's Museum and wandered around Canal Street. It was several years after that before I went back.

Joel and I divorced and two weeks after the divorce was final, I went with my brother, and my friend Erin for a party weekend in the Big Easy. We stayed at the Marriott on the edge of the French Quarter, and danced and drank up and down Bourbon St. I celebrated my independence by getting a tattoo at a shop on North Rampart St. It was the one chance that I actually partied in the Quarter.

When Joel and I got back together, we celebrated by going on a long weekend to the city that held so many memories. We stayed at the Royal Sonesta on Bourbon. If you watched any of the Fox News Coverage, and you saw Shepard Smith on the balcony of a hotel, I'm almost positive it's the same suite we were in. It was a rainy ,cold November weekend, but we didn't care.It rained just enough to keep the drunks off of Bourbon at night.

We walked though Pirate's Alley behind the St. Louis Cathedral and took pictures in the rain that made the sidewalks shimmer. We had dinner at Galatorie's Restaurant. On Sunday, we watched a Saints game at the Super Dome and talked to some die hard local Saints fans. I wonder where they are now, if they evacuated, or if they were back in the Super Dome under much less pleasant conditions.

The next year, we had Thanksgiving Dinner at Laura's house in LaPlace and took Amanda to the Ritz Carleton for her first High Tea. The waiter was a doll, and made sure that Amanda had her own set of refreshments so that she didn't have to have the things we had. He treated her like a princess.

So many memories of New Orleans that it hurts to watch the television footage. I have no idea what it must be like there. I know what hurricane damage looks like, living so close to Punta Gorda, but what I am seeing on television makes that look like a birthday party.

If by some chance you come across this entry, or if you are reading this, and you know people in New Orleans and Gulf Coast, please be assured that my family is praying for you. I loved the city of New Orleans. I hope it comes back better than ever. It didn't survive the French, the Spanish, and the Civil War and the damned Yankees to let a storm named Katrina be the end of it.