April 6, 2007
3010 Pauger St., 7th Ward
New Orleans, La.
Family and Friends--
First, a little back-story. The AmeriCorps and Tulane University have put me up in Tulane's Medical Center dorms for the year. My roommate, Jules, is a fellow AmeriCorps member and native New Orleanian. We have hit it off since day one.
He was journalism major, I was journalism major. He uses "word" to end every sentence. I use "bro."
Jules had to evacuate for Hurricane Katrina. He spent a year and half in Houston. You see, Jules wanted to come back right away. But his mom, a diabetic coupled with seizure and aneurysm issues couldn't trust the uncertain medical care in
He set her up, joined the AmeriCorps and returned home.
On Good Friday, Jules and I went to a barbecue at his boss' place.
The barbecue was close to his grandma's house he said. So we went. Jules had told me about this house. How it flooded. How his grandma hadn't seen it yet, 19 months after the storm.
We drove by his high school,
Six or so houses up, stands what used to be a comfy single- family yellow home.
A note left by one of Jules' family members reads something like this, "This house is due to be gutted on or about September, 2006."
The note is true.
It's crazy to see a house down to its planks the first time. Now, my eyes see it is as pseudo-normalcy. At least in
As Jules walks around the house and looks in Grandma’s windows and her backyard, you can tell he is reminiscing.
Finally, he comes out with some stories.
"Remember that room your relatives have that they never want you to go in?" he says.
"Oh, yeah," I say. He points through the window into a no-walled room.
"One time, my sister and I snuck in there," he says. "We broke the head of an owl made out of sea shells.”
"My grandma never said a word about," he says with a smile that shows about 15 years of relief from the day they broke the statue.
Jules would come over to Grandma's house when his father, Jules Raymond Sr. was going through chemo. Grandma took care of her son while he battled cancer.
Jules hadn't hit double-digit age yet. His two sisters were even younger.
Jules was 10 when Jules Sr. passed.
Today, Jules' sister, Lauren, is a 2004 Harvard graduate. Rachel, the youngest, is a senior at
Jules Jr. graduated from NYU.
The Goins family obviously handles adversity well.
It makes me proud to be in New Orleans and see Jules here today. He works 70 hours a week helping
Since I work at City Hall, only 300 yards from our apartment, I usually joke with him about having the place all to myself.
He needs a break. But I doubt he'll take one. It isn't like him.
Best to everyone,