I started to write part 2 of my last post on Hurricane Katrina, but then I realized I had zero interest in rehashing that bullshit yet again.
I’m over it.
Now this doesn’t mean I’m going to forget what happened, or that the scars I have and fears I carry will ever disappear. But I’ve learned to live with it, and I’ve moved on, just as the vast majority of New Orleans has. All the morbid documentaries on TV this week are not for us, they are for the rest of America or the world, that wants to wallow in gratuitous disaster porn. I tried watching one, and so many painful memories resurfaced that I refused to watch another one that only recapped the storm itself. I want to hear about now and the future. Unlike most other stations, CNN has been doing excellent and abundant non-disaster coverage on Nola including stories about the rebuilding status in neighborhoods, the new education system, the new mayor, the cleanup of our institutions of corruption, and the defiant spirit of locals after Katrina *and* the BP oil spill. This, coupled with their live coverage of the Saints Superbowl victory parade has them far on my good side. Anyway…
We’ve rehashed and over-analyzed the past five years to the point of exhaustion. We know what happened, and we know what we as New Orleanians, Louisianians, Americans… as humans, did wrong. We have learned from it, and rebuilt a better city, one that held on to the best of our culture (a warm Franco-Afro-Caribbean passion for living like we mean it – through harder work in less hours complemented by decadent traditions) while discarding or disavowing the worst (corruption in government and education, both black and white racism, and poor economic development). We’ve crafted an island of energy and enthusiasm in a time when the rest of the country is in the economic dumps. Sure, we’re not immune to it, but we’re taking it very well, especially considering we had oil hemorrhaging all over us for three months.
Personally, I feel like I’ve lived a lifetime since Katrina. No five year period in my life has ever felt so long, so filled. When Katrina hit I was a broadcast news assignment editor interviewing to become a federal agent. If you’d told me then that in five years I’d endure the worst man-made disaster in US history and watch my entire hometown get wiped off the map, move cross-country and back, career change to publicist and writer, have two babies, and then watch the worst oil spill in US history dump all over my home state – I’d have thought you were drunk. And I think it’s this way for many people. The memories of Katrina are so painful and harsh they are still recalled like yesterday, yet so much has happened to us since then it also feels like decades ago.
I know not everyone feels they are better off since the storm, but I do. Now I can barely recall the restless and unfulfilled person I used to be. Five years ago I spent my time obsessing about my career and ambitions, now I spend it enjoying my family and friends via backyard BBQs, music or food festivals, cooking with my windows open, or just lounging on my porch with a beer while the babies play at my feet. Sure, I still have ambitions, but I don’t lose sleep over them. And I’m the happiest I’ve ever been in my life.
New Orleans is a powerful example of what resilience, energy, love, and passion can accomplish. I think in many ways we took New Orleans for granted before Katrina, and now we’re finally treating her like we really love her. Sometimes it does take the worst to bring out the best in people… and places. I feel very fortunate to be here in a time of such renaissance for the place I was born. So no, I don’t want to talk about Katrina any more than is necessary, I want to talk about now.
Now, is really heartening.
Originally published on Pistolette.net.