Monday, March 20, 2006
This is the picture we took at Pat O'Brien's Saturday afternoon.
Before our trip, whenever I would watch anything on television about Hurricane Katrina, whether it was PBS or Discovery Channel or Food Network, I would inevitably be crying by the end of it. We've been taking these trips to New Orleans once or twice (sometimes three times) a year for the last twelve years. When you go anywhere that often, you develop as much emotion for the people as you do for the destination.
So, when I would see something on television about the destroyed homes and lives interrupted, I would think of all of the people we've met there who were so kind and funny and full of life. We're the kind of patrons who, as often as not, enjoy the people who work in the stores and restaurants and bars and hotels wherever we happen to be and develop very nice and meaningful one or two hour superficial relationships with whoever happens to be helping us at the time.
The reason I won't be crying anymore when I see those programs on television is because of the sweet restroom lady who we've talked to in the bathroom at Pat O'Brien's a million times and who was still there. She lost everything and is living with her sister but her faith and resilience were palpable and it felt like each time she told her story that maybe the support she felt from everyone who goes in there might be making her a little stronger each day.
I came across people like her throughout my visit: the lady singing as she was straightening rooms in our hotel (I asked her if she was happy cleaning that room as I passed her in the hall and she said with a smile, "Sure am. I have to be somewhere. I just as soon be here."), the ladies who made us toast and English muffins every morning in the hotel restaurant who made you feel like it was your mom asking you what you wanted for breakfast, the people in the parades who I can only imagine what they must be living through.
So, no more tears. If they can suck it up, so can I.
Oh, about that title to this post, tomorrow's New Orleans tale:
Laurie and Melissa go to a strip club and almost join a gang.