Monday, April 16, 2012

Farewell New Orleans

     Approximately twelve years ago I was in Russia and received one of the worst emails of my life. My dad has taken a new job and we were moving. From Montana, the "Last Best Place." to New Orleans. From Montana to Nola. I knew that dad's company was being sold and there was a possibility of moving, I just never expected that far!
     Now my parents are again moving, in reverse this time. Going from the South to the Northwest. Although not devastated, I find myself a little sad. I don't know when the next time I'll get to visit New Orleans will be. I will miss it and the free hotel. :) So one last time my husband carted the kids and me down to that grand old city. Once more I traipsed through Jackson square, chowed down on red beans at rice at the Acme Oyster Bar, and inhaled powdered sugar at Cafe du Monde. I didn't get to do everything on the list, but I got to do enough. It was the perfect day to say goodbye, raining lightly and a comfortable 60 degrees; a polar opposite of my introduction, a token that the city has come full circle to me.
     It was a roasting hot July day in 2001 and the humidity was full swing in a city I wanted no part of. Dad had dragged mom and me to the French Quarter in his eagerness to show off the "new" home. After wearing much of my powdered beignet, I debated whether the precious remnant of ice water would be better served poured down my gullet or my forehead and back. I was so hot and miserable that I daubed water on my flimsy napkin and wiped any exposed areas of skin, caring nothing about the wadded napkin remnants comically clinging to my face. Draped over the table to increase surface area under the ceiling fan, I remember hearing dad say "let's go walking" and distinctly thinking "are you NUTS!?!" let me remind you that Montana only has several days of 100+ temperatures every year and the humidity stays well under 30%.  I felt like a wilted flower. It took a bit before my body adjusted and I stopped comparing opening the front door to that of a blast furnace.
     People familiar only with Bourbon St. and Mardi Gras often refer to Nola with epitaphs resembling Sodom and Gomorroh, Sin City, and the like.  I can't tell you how many times I heard things like "New Orleans?! That's such an evil place. I would never go there." The truth is that you will go where God calls you. The truth is that, although there is great darkness, the city also has many who walk in the Light of God. The truth is that  a wonderful seminary is down there. It has refused considerations of moving, knowing that where there is evil and hurting, and people who are lost, there is a need for the children of God. The truth is that many strong churches exist in the city, who faithfully preach the word of God, who reach out to the lost. I made many good friends, who reached out to me when I was hurting and in need.
     This final trip down could only have been better if my brothers were able to make it. They both have those job-things that wouldn't allow them to take the time off. :(  My sister-in-law brought her kids down to join the party. What a party with four stair-stepped kids from 8 to 4! We had a girl's shopping trip, a visit to the childrens' museum, and an afternoon through the sprinklers. There weren't many quiet moments with the kids running amuck, but it was wonderful!
      New Orleans to me is a mixture of things I never want to forget and times I try not to remember. It was a great place to date--good cheap food, free entertainment. I had my first oysters there and learned to love shrimp. Also lobster, crab, crawfish, you know the expensive stuff? I don't miss the traffic. From both the city itself and my personal experience with it, Nola is a place that reminds me of the goodness and faithfulness of my Savior. It reminds of his power to redeem, restore, to heal. That was something worth experiencing and worth remembering.

Goodbye New Orleans. I will always love you.

*I tried uploading some pictures, but after blogger was being a pain and wouldn't let me arrange them and making me want to pull my hair out, I decided to save that for a different day.

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