New Orleans, A love letter, part 2

Dear New Orleans,

I wrote to you nearly 3 years ago when we first met. At the time I was swelling with excitement and optimism. (I was also swelling quite literally after 3 rainy, sweaty, rum drenched months in Central America). I saw you through the eyes of a tourist. Your brightly hued architecture, your happily waving natives, your relaxed attitude.

Your motto, “laissez les bon temps roulez”. Let the good times roll.

Second line down Bourbon street. Shake your ass to a brass band. Stroll around the quarter, daiquiri in hand, singing in the rain. 

That’s what I wanted to do. The beat had been playing in my head for 30 years and I was ready to dance.

I hadn’t yet seen your dark side.  Because when you visit it’s easy to see:

The humor of navigating your pockmarked crooked roads

The beauty of your sunken homes, their sun weathered residents sitting on the porch mid afternoon.

The allure of your cozy 24 hour bars and laissez faire drinking laws.

The romance of your empty, dimly lit streets, staggered street lamps flickering your path.

The appeal of your fried, charbroiled, buttered, gooey, drenched, decadence for every meal.

Your magic.

In all those Instagram opportunities, it’s easy to miss what they also represent. Your corruption, your poverty, your segregation, your unemployment rates, your substance abuse, your lack of resources, your crime, your police shortage, your obesity rates, your health epidemics, your lifelong struggle.

After nearly three years, I can say with an odd sense of triumph, my years with you have been my greatest challenge. You have tested my confidence, my joy, my relationships, even what sometimes felt like my sanity. You have splayed opened my heart and you have broken it.

Most of all, you have laid bare your vulnerabilities and shown me that that is where true strength and resilience lie.

I was a different person when I arrived grinning at your door.  I am wiser, humbler, unfettered by the ghosts of the past. I have new burdens to carry but they are the world’s burdens and it was about damn time I started bearing my share.

I still believe you are built on magic. Your resilience and your beauty still take my breath away. I’ll be leaving you soon, my heart is ready to move on. But baby, it’s been a helluva ride.

“Y’all live longer up there but we live better down here,” A local said to me recently.

I couldn’t disagree.

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Dear Babies (1)

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Dear babies

Dear Babies

To my best baby friends,

You are too young to understand what happened in Boston. Or Newtown. Or Aurora. In fact, even as an adult this kind of violence is baffling to me. At my angriest, I’ve only had the fleeting desire to fling my phone (or dog) across a room.

My greatest wish for you, little ones, is that when you read about these incidents or someone points to an old, yellowed newspaper (similar to the one I still have from my day of birth) and tells the story about that day, or those days, you too will find it baffling. Not just because it’s so inexplicably violent and horrifying. But because things like that just don’t happen in your world.

I know violence has a long storied past in this world, and probably a long unfortunate future. But I’m hopeful that the good amongst us will never stop fighting to defeat it. Just make sure you’re one of the good ones. And just know, there is a big beautiful world out there, no matter how ugly it seems sometimes. And if one day you’re feeling really hopeless and dismayed about the state of things (or just bored and restless), book a flight somewhere you’ve never been before. You will see your life through a different lens. You will see that there is still beauty, sometimes you just have to go looking for it.

Xoxo
Your crazy auntie Zina