Monday, March 30, 2009

Day 754

Day 754
New Orleans, La.

Dear Family and Friends,

Daylight savings time provides an emotional boon across the City. People play later, leave work earlier and enjoy the everythings and want-to-bes of spring time life. The local parks are always full.

In a few more weeks, nearly everyone will be wearing linen.

When I first moved here 754 days ago, our newspapers and televisions led and ended with Katrina stories. Every day. I gauge the passage of time now by the amount of with "Katrina" in the newspaper. Now, there are coffee and paper mornings--I swear it--where the K-word can't be found.

I like these mornings.

When year two turned to three, our public figures and friendly tableside rhetoric shifted slightly: "Now three years later..."

And as the months progress, we are saying, "Now three and a half-years later..."

Soon it will be, "Now four years later..."

That moment in time, the day the New Orleans calendar reset, will be with this community for a long-long time. It guides the people here, provides a measuring stick of sorts. What's more than interesting for an outsider like me are the experiences that make New Orleans what it is, even if Hurricane Katrina had never happened.

Crawfish boils, annual festivals, irreverent dress-up days, and second lines come to mind.

The messy stuff is what people elsewhere see about New Orleans. I paraded from 6am to 3pm on Mardi Gras day with a blue sky and a slight breeze the whole way. When we finished, my friends and I played football in our street.

But my friend outside the City texted, "Were you near the shootings?"

Six people were shot along parade routes on Mardi Gras day. There were a few others earlier in the week as well.

New Orleans according to everyone else is a dangerous outpost where people here on business are timid about walking after dark. New Orleans according to those living here is a cultural outpost where people laugh harder, cry longer and eat better than most.

Now, if only the spring weather stayed could stay longer than May.



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