i reserve the right to be comforted by the fact that i can always pack my life into one suitcase and relocate, even if i won’t act upon it. over the last couple months, a new destination has emerged as my oasis-new orleans. i believe i got this title as a recommendation from one of the libraries that i stalk on the tweeter-yea libraries!
this is provoking:
“New Orleanians are hard to offend. Stop thinking of New Orleans as the worst-organized city in the United States, they often say. Start thinking of it as the best-organized city in the Caribbean.” (xi)
this made me think of waiting for superman:
“They wanted to be back,” Big Mike went on. “They wanted to go to school in New Orleans. Maybe their mama in Texas couldn’t come back. Maybe she didn’t want to. So you got children staying by relatives or friends, but most are on their own, roommating with each other. Some got a little apartment; some got FEMA trailers. Some are in abandoned houses. A lot of our kids leave school and go straight to work. They work till two, three o’clock in the morning and come to school at seven. I got fifteen I call every morning to wake them up.” He held up his cell phone.
“So, who’s cooking their meals and washing their clothes?”
“We got about seven or eight that washes their clothes upstairs.”
“What about food?”
“Food, hmm.” Mike shrugged. “Sometimes they have money. I give them money, Miss Laurie gives them money. Sometimes they’ll eat by other people’s houses. Our football coach, he’s got about nine boys living with him.” (300)
“At least they’d stayed in the Nine. Other people’s children went off to college, which for years Ronald had interpreted as a positive thing. Lately, though, he wasn’t so sure. The children who went off to college hardly ever came back. It was as though the hard work of getting that college degree bent them out of shape, focused them too much on their own personal achievement. Once you got that degree, it was all about getting ahead in the monetized struggle, and they forgot the community that raised them. Ooh, live in the Lower Nine; not me. Ooh, do a day’s work with your hands; I won’t touch that. The neighborhood gained something when one of its children went off to become a doctor or an engineer, but it lost something, too. Ronald was glad that everyone in his clan still lived within fifteen blocks of one another. That’s how they stayed strong.” (118-9)
we only learn how to love by loving. even when we think we’re not ready for it. if the good people of NOLA have taught us nothing else, it’s that people are often capable of more than they think.