What Brings Me Back?

This is a question I find that I ask myself every time I come back to the city after a visit to friends or family that live elsewhere. We just spent the week in Orlando, Florida visiting friends. These friends are a loving couple with two daughters under the age of five. They have a cat and live in a small town between Orlando and Daytona. Their house is a typical Florida home. Four bedrooms, two baths, kitchen, dining room, living room. They have some land I am not sure of the exact dimensions of their property but I would guess it is a quarter acre. The house has clean wall-to-wall carpet and a dishwasher. Their water and electric works everyday barring serious weather or not paying the bills. The roads leading to their house are in good repair never once was I worried that my car would be damaged by driving down the street. Ah yes and it smells of roses and the ocean, ok this is an exaggeration but it does smell clean.

We had a wonderful four day visit then spent all yesterday driving back to New Orleans. While we were driving home I started having mixed feelings about returning. I was excited to be home in my own space but beginning to feel a burden about returning to the city. I had just spent the last few days in a place with a level of comfort and security that I am not afforded in New Orleans. However those feelings are packaged in a cement block box and delivered to you “turn key” ready for you to take up residence. Here in New Orleans my house is near 100 years old and needs some electrical updating as well as plumbing fixes on both sides. I do not have a dining room and in order to get to the kitchen after the baby has gone to bed I have to sneak around the outside of the house. My house does not even have a space for a dishwasher and the one bathroom is just big enough to do your business in and that is all.

Two years ago I traded the convenience of my assembly line box house for the personality of New Orleans life. I say that I like living in New Orleans and the opportunity to experience things that others can not. At times just living here makes me feel like I am a part of something that other people can not understand. But when I was driving home yesterday I felt a pain of jealousy for the comparatively easy life that Floridian suburbs bring. Or at least it seems easy (I know everyone and everywhere has their problems). Something continues to bring me back here. An easy answer to that question would be my husband after all he is the one who LOVES New Orleans. The truth is there is something about this place that I have not figured out yet, maybe when I do I will be done with the city and ready to move but it is just as equally possible that after I figure out what it is about this city that keeps drawing me back I will not be able to leave and I too will LOVE New Orleans.

13 Comments so far

  1. Daneeta Loretta Saft (unregistered) on December 16th, 2007 @ 6:20 am

    Hey Rayna,

    Hang in there. You are in NOLA for a reason, and I suspect it is not just because your husband is there. I’m from NOLA but haven’t lived there for over 20 years. I’m trying desperately to get back…from London, no less. That’s how special the place is.

    Hope to see you there soon!

    Daneeta from Metroblogging London

  2. Bill Dunn (unregistered) on December 16th, 2007 @ 8:01 am

    I read What Brings me Back. I keep trying to get back after I got back after my 40th reunion of Benjamin Franklin HS. My parents used to live there and both died there, now buried in Georgia.

    New Orleans was my Fathers last Army duty station and I graduated from High School there. I stayed there and met my first wife there. I used to hang out in the French Quarter and later down on Carrolton Ave. I have ridden my bicycle all the way from the French Quarter to Tulane University flying down Freret St. dodging in and out of traffic.

    I live in Sarasota, Florida and keep feeling like I want to go home. Gosh I want to go home. I didn’t know home was until I was looking through some pictures of New Orleans, I realized that New Orleans was home. Being an Army brat and born in Georgia I was kinda confused as to where home was.

    But home is where the heart is and my heart has always been in New Orleans. Hang in there, gal.

  3. Craig (unregistered) on December 16th, 2007 @ 10:48 pm

    I will never leave New Orleans because I have yet to meet anyone here who’s a Yaughta.

    That’s a person who’s always telling you, “Y’oughta do this” or “Y’oughta do that.”

    I “oughta?” Nononononoooooo.

  4. P. Martha Wade-Graham (unregistered) on December 16th, 2007 @ 11:12 pm

    Rayna, I, too, would love to come back to New Orleans. I was Bill’s classmate (above blog), went away to college, lived in Arkansas, Iowa, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Scotland, England, Florida and now Connecticut, but whenever anyone asks me, “Where are you from?” they get only one answer: “New Orleans!” You know, we used to say that New Orleans was “The City That Care Forgot,” and when I was a little girl I would ask my father what it meant. He tried to explain it to me, but I had to come to my own realizations about what it means. “The City That Care Forgot” means that we New Orleanians will always take time to make food worth eating, despite whatever worries and hardships we may be facing at the moment. We always have an open door and an offer of something to eat and drink once you pass through it. We don’t care what color your skin is, what language you spoke first, or what street you live on. If you live decently, you can still be a friend. We treat our close friends as good, or better, even, than we treat our relatives. We don’t care what religion you are, so long as you aren’t a hypocrite about it. We don’t care what your politics are, so long as you don’t preach about it all day long. We don’t hurry when we eat, we mourn the dead with three-day-long funerals, and we love our homes, keep them clean, “ready in case someone drops in.” We are the most loving, accepting, purely joyous people in the entire United States of America. I pray each and every day that I will live long enough to again be able to reside in New Orleans, to smell the exhaust of the bus after it lets me off at my stop, to jump to catch a throw at Mardi Gras, to get tipsy enough on Sunday afternoon to not mind the heat and humidity in the French Quarter, to sit beside the Mississippi River reading all afternoon, to be able to go to Cafe du Monde whenever I please, knowing that if I don’t run into someone I know, I’ll at least run into someone willing to talk to me. God Willing, people like you will help to restore my beloved home to its former glory, or to a newfound, even better society than pre-Katrina. Even when really sad things happen, like the homeless in New Orleans protesting the destruction of the old projects, which I saw on TV this afternoon, even then, while they sleep on the ground in front of City Hall, they find the strength and courage to sing, to blow those trumpets, to march slowly and with reverence for all our lives, along the time and weather worn streets, knowing that the true spirit of New Orleans is totally indefatigible. I only wish I were there to help. Love, Martha

  5. Jack Ware (unregistered) on December 17th, 2007 @ 10:21 am

    I don’t know about all of that but I will admit that more people romanticize New Orleans than any other American City. And that’s fine…

  6. Kim (unregistered) on December 17th, 2007 @ 1:59 pm

    New Orleans has a habit of taking your soul, for better or for worse and keeping it. She gets in your blood and no matter where you are, the food will NEVER be as good.

    I left seven years ago and find it ironic that it took a hurricane to make me realize that home really is where the heart is.

    Someday I’ll be back for good…

  7. termite. (unregistered) on December 17th, 2007 @ 3:19 pm

    It took a hurricane for me to come back.

    but it seems as though it’s gotten the best of me this past week. i met with a Realtor this morning and i’ll decide by Thursday night if i throw in the towel.
    this saddens me to no end.

  8. SteveO (unregistered) on December 18th, 2007 @ 12:29 pm

    I heard last week about this Termie-bug. Please don’t leave.
    New Orleans won’t be the same without you m’dear.

  9. Jack Ware (unregistered) on December 18th, 2007 @ 1:30 pm

    Well, I don’t know what’s going on with you Termite, as we haven’t spoken in quite some time. But whatever you decide, I hope it works out for you.

    you know.


  10. termite. (unregistered) on December 18th, 2007 @ 7:50 pm

    thank you stevearino. it’s been a very trying decision. thanks for the kind email..and i’ll be happy to serve up some slop for you and the Mrs.. just as soon as you return my bike.. :)

    thanks jack..a.k.a.~monkeyboy.

    of course i know. and so do you ~ forever.


    ~L.D.T. :)

  11. JAUG (unregistered) on December 19th, 2007 @ 1:18 pm

    Admit it Florida is boring! My sister moved there after Katrina to St. Cloud. I’m not sure I like having to drive over a half hour to get to anyplace! The traffic is nuts, no one walks, and every other road is a toll.

    We love NOLA because of everything it’s NOT and because of everything it Is. Now there’s a list to start!

    NOLA is NOT Atlanta or Orlando (thank gawd!)
    NOLA is unique among cities and she would miss you!

  12. termite. (unregistered) on December 20th, 2007 @ 7:55 pm

    …um.. after today, a very important day (to me)…

    this little termite is going to stay to swam around nola for many years to come.

    thank you city council. thank you so. :)

  13. Laurie (unregistered) on December 25th, 2007 @ 10:20 am

    Actually, the food is bettre’ down, up, or across the bayou.

    Don’t forget down, up, or across the river either.


    Don’t do it.

    You belong here.


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