Tuesday, August 28, 2007

I Know What It Means to Love New Orleans

My Dear New Orleans,

I was cautious when I met you. I knew to like you would mean to hope. To hope for a commitment. To hope for long term. The ultimate live in situation.

You welcomed us with a lush greenness, much like I was used to from my first home. The tall pine trees reminded me of summers at camp. The Live Oaks with Spanish Moss were like something out of a dream.

You shared with us your history.




That first weekend you covered me with sweetness.
Or maybe that was just the dusting of powdered sugar from the beignets. Yum.

You dazzled me with twinkling lights.


You beckoned me to come closer. You whispered promises and hope. A new home. A new life. A new chance.

We moved in. We loved our neighborhood. You shared your wide collection of animals, many of which live in our yard.
You have a reputation for being a party animal, and surely you know how to laissez le bon temps roullez.


But you are a family town. You throw parties (and beads!) for the kiddos like I've never seen before!


We enjoyed trips to the zoo, the aquarium, the Global Wildlife Center. You wowed my daughter with up close encounters with her favorite animals.

We ate food we never thought we'd eat, and we liked it!
And we danced! Oh how we have danced!


At the Jazz Festival, the French Quarter Festival, Lundi Gras, Mardi Gras, second lines, concerts in the park, musicians on the street, WWOZ. Oh how we have danced. You taught me about Cajun music, and Zydeco, and the joy of a Brass Band.
I've danced to the sounds of a washboard and spoons. You know I love to dance!

Our love was still young, our honeymoon not yet over, when Katrina came to town. She ripped us apart, this usurper. Two years ago she turned our world upside.

And the world cried with us.

We separated, but not for long. For you were home.

It has been hard. It has certainly brought out the worst in us, and many, many others, at times. But it has also been a testament to community. The way people drew together to support. To rebuild. Those who have stayed even when they had no house, because their hearts needed to be home. Here, with you.

It's been work.



And it will never be the same, although sometimes we almost forget. When we're dancing. When we're gazing up at the trees. When we are breathing in the hot and sticky air. When we enjoy being home. But then we want to revisit some of our favorite haunts. And they are gone.

We want to call an old friend, and they have left. And so we remember.

And we must not forget. We must not let the world forget. There are lessons that must be learned. Changes that must be made

Love and joy and music that must be shared

I know what it means to miss New Orleans. And I know what it means to love you.

With all heart,

Painted Maypole

42 comments:

Jen M. said...

Oh my gosh this was an amazing post. The pictures were great. Are you in New Orleans again? I know your profile says LA - but wondering if you had to move to fix things.

How is the restoration coming along? From what I hear, there is still so much to do.

Another blogger (Alice, from From The Frontlines) and I have talked about getting some bloggers together and doing something purposeful - like Habitat for Humanity in New Orleans....what do you think?

mothergoosemouse said...

I love your tribute. New Orleans is beautiful, and the food is out of this world. I really hope to make another visit soon, and it's great to know a fellow blogger there!

Jennifer said...

I've been thinking of New Orleans all day -- and of how I felt, many hundreds of miles up the Mississppi, two years ago, looking at the river and wondering what my brothes and sisters down her banks were seeing...

This was a beautiful post.

painted maypole said...

Yes, I am still in Louisiana - in the burbs north of N.O. Coming to NOLA to do some work is a great idea. I can help you find places to work, and Habitat is a resource.

For those of you who don't know, I know what it means to miss New Orleans is a song. Very popular around here these days. Harry Connick Jr. is one of many who sings it. I know what it means to love New Orleans is a rally cry for the city- made very popular around here by jewelry designer Anne Dale. Her car magnets are on many cars, and her fleur de lis necklace hangs from many throats.

Sober Briquette said...

This is a great post, and the first I've read by someone "real." Thank you.

River said...

I've "visited" New Orleans many times in books and movies. I love her even though I've never really been there. I cried when Katrina came and wreaked her havoc. I cheered inside my mind when so many banded together to help.She's a beautiful city and I hope she lives on for many, many years.

niobe said...

A lovely post and a wonderful tribute to a fragile, stubborn city.

Christine said...

this makes me want to cry for the beautiful city. the city i hadn't seen before this horrible destruction. someday i will still go but it will be a different world.

(comments on your post below, too)

Emily said...

It is hard for those of us out of NO to remember that the tragedy is not long over. For those of you there, it has continued. Thank you for the reminder.

Christine said...

hey--go back to my site and check out what i added just for you!

aimee / greeblemonkey said...

I'm sitting here crying.

jen said...

oh honey, this is so beautiful. so, so beautiful.

thailandchani said...

Great pictures! I haven't been to NOLA for many years, too many to count.. but I do recall many of the things you talk about ~ the community and the culture.

Katrina was horrible, mostly in the respect that so many were lost who didn't need to be lost, but that, as they say, is another story.

It is interesting to hear it from your perspective. I hope you'll write more about it.


Peace,

~Chani
http://thailandgal.blogspot.com

NotSoSage said...

This made me want to cry. And dance.

What a beautiful love letter, PM. Thanks for sharing it with us.

slouching mom said...

You've helped me see the inner beauty, where before I saw only the surface.

Thank you. This was beautiful.

blooming desertpea said...

Just brilliant!

Julie Pippert said...

Simply awesome.

Did you hear on NPR yesterday the students they interviewed about all the politicians coming to town today? One teen girl said, "I'm tired of being every politician's chance for posturing on top of tragedy, just to show some 'caring' side or whatever. New Orleans isn't some stopping point for your agenda; it's my HOME and this is my LIFE." She went on to say something else about tired of being the Poor Little Tragic Town and wanting the media and politicians to let them get on with healing and focusing on the progress, not the tragedy.

I swear I stopped and just applauded her.

Wow.

And wow to you too. I think that girl would applaud you, too.

(I also thought Cokie was good today; I also thought about how many people are stuck in this terrible PTSD in the FEMA parks too.)

Julie
Ravin' Picture Maven

Emily said...

Lovely post. Thinking of you today.

mayberry said...

I'm new to your blog but just loved this. So glad to be here.

Wayfarer Scientista said...

Beautiful. Thanks for sharing.

carrie said...

A breathtaing post to a beautiful, wounded city!

Thank you for sharing, I'm weeping with you for something I've never even seen.

Ambassador said...

Maypole, I am here in NOLA, blogging as Ambassador - thank you for such a wonderful (trying not to cry at work) post. I have been trying to blog this week in an attempt to counterbalance all the drek on TV. I look forward to reading more of your posts! Stop on by when you get a chance...and if you do make that trip down here to work, let me know! Ken

Oh, The Joys said...

I wish my kids were a bit bigger so we could come down and do a week of family volunteering.

nomotherearth said...

Wow, a place I have always wanted to visit. Now more than ever. What a lovely tribute, and like a phoenix, it will rise from the ashes.

heartinsanfrancisco said...

This was so beautiful. I have been there only as a visitor, but longed to stay as the city is uniquely magical.

The food, the music, the voodoo stalls, the beignets, the beautiful people and architecture, the bayou, and my favorite place by the Mississippi where the steamboats turn around.

A large part of my heart is with the people of this beautiful city as they continue to rebuild and spin straw into gold.

Thank you for sharing this.

Amy York said...

That was a lovely post! I wish I could go visit NOLA. I wish I could go back in time and visit pre-Katrina! One day I'll get there... Thanks for sharing a glimpse of what to look forward to! :)

Lawyer Mama said...

LOVE this post! Thank you, thank you, thank you for reminding everyone.

NOLA needs to scream and keep screaming until people listen.

Now I'm dying for some crawfish, but everyone around here seems to think they're only good for fish bait....

soccer mom in denial said...

I found you through the Ambassador above (I'm one of the folks he mentions in his latest NOLA post). I lived Uptown for 2 years and married a New Orleanian. Our in-laws are up by you and we also have pictures of our kids feeding those same giraffe in Folsom (it is Folsom right?).

Your before and after photos are wonderful. Your words say it all. Well done. Well done.

Furrow said...

A perfect tribute. I miss it, too, and I was only there for a day and a half several years ago. It's an essential part of our national character, and we need it.

thirtysomething said...

Oh, this was a grand stroll back through the true NO. Thanks for reminding us of it's character, its beauty. We must never forget.

Joy, of course said...

Oh Maypole! This post. I had to stop and rub the goosebumps down off my arms when I was done. It's a beautiful breath-taking tribute. And I thank you for it. I thank you for helping me remember.

Aliki2006 said...

this was amazing--really wonderful. New Orleans has been in my mind and heart all day.

Candygirlflies said...

Perfect. A perfect post, a perfect tribute.

Thank you for sharing with us.

xo CGF

Jen M. said...

I was inspired for my Thursdau post by New Orleans - hope you approve!

sue said...

Came here by way of Aimee/Greeblemonkey. What a beautiful post. My heart goes out to all of the people who lost so much. I hope someday you get at least a little of it back...

Luisa Perkins said...

This was a beautiful tribute. Thank you.

Mad Hatter said...

What an amazing photo diary. Sorry to have been so long out of commenting commission. It feels as if I missed a thousand great posts. Ahem, and I did expressly ask that no one write anything interesting while I was away.

ewe are here said...

This is an amazing post... I'm so glad I've managed to find it in my 'catching up' reading!

b*babbler said...

What an incredible tribute to an incredible city.

Indygirl said...

I know I am over a week late in reading this but I'm just now getting around to the Just Posts.

I cried when I read your post. I'm originally from south AR but spent much time in N.O. with friends & family lucky enough to call it home. It's the only city to have truly stolen my heart. Now living in IN, it's hard to explain to the natives here the hold that city can have. Thank for sharing your experiences and pictures.

Don Mills Diva said...

I'm here via your post in Jan 2008 but just wanted to say I really enjoyed this tribute - lovely!

Liz said...

I just found you via Rima Rama and your Mardi Gras giveaway. This is a beautiful post.

I love New Orleans with every fiber in my being and we have seriously considered moving there. Like Indygirl, I am lucky in that my best friends in the world grew up there and still live there. We all went to college in Memphis together and made too many road trips to NOLA to count. I've been back almost every year and really feel like NO is home to me in a way no other city is. It's a very difficult feeling to describe. The city just speaks to me down in my soul. I love the mix of cultures, the music, the food, the architecture, but more than that I just love the people. New Orleanians are the friendliest, most fun-loving, exuberant people anyway, all despite the very many problems that they have historically faced.

I cried for days after Katrina and it makes me furious that recovery has been so slow to come. The first time I went back post-Katrina was a very sobering experience. I have tried to spread the word far and wide that people need to spend their tourist dollars visiting NO and support the city.

Gosh, now I'm crying again! Have a happy Mardi Gras! I'm tempted now to order some King Cake and have it shipped to me!




























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