The storm that ate New Orleans is all over the news again, but little is new. It's the grim anniversary of unrelenting anxiety, anguish and devastation that should be somewhat over by now, but it takes these significant dates to turn our heads -to remind us it's far from finished.
Last Sunday I saw our friends who live in New Orleans, Derek Huston and Macon Fry, up here at a party in Virginia. Derek's family evacuated, and ended up starting a branch of their school while they were gone. Macon had to go as well. The band Derek was in scattered, and not all could return. Fortunately their houses were spared, and spared again when an under reported tornado ripped through the neighborhood a year or so later, but, of course, an incomprehensible number of people were not so lucky.
I'm overly fond of New Orleans as every year, including the year after Katrina, the Hustons have made room for our family to crash with them for Mardi Gras. (In the past that's meant six kids under one roof.) A lot of people think Bourbon Street= New Orleans. (As if D.C. is just Pennsylvania Avenue) Some are a bit taken aback when I tell them we take our children there.
Others don't understand how Mardi Gras could carry on after the storm. Those that live there know why-that it's an affirmation of life, almost as necessary as breathing. It's not just a party or parades, but a season sublime. And it's traditions of joy that makes that city tick-the pageantry, the abundant music and the amazing food. As we wander about in our costumes, laughing at the guys dressed as Elvis that just walked by, Derek likes to say "Everywhere else- it's just Tuesday."
New Orleans, like an endangered species, still critically needs help to survive. The suicide rate there is on the rise. How sad is that?
Besides everywhere else-it's just NOT New Orleans.