Wednesday, July 22, 2009

First Impressions of New Orleans

This is my first trip here since April, 2005. I’m staying at my sister’s house, the one Dad built, the house where we grew up. It took two and a half years to rehab it after the Hurricane Katrina floods and this is the first time I’ve seen it complete.

The first thing I notice in the Lakeview neighborhood is that at least a fourth of the lots are still vacant, including the lots on either side of my sister’s house. Some houses are still boarded up like they were nearly four years ago and some are actively under construction or reconstruction.

Her house has the bones and spirit of the original 1950s-era cottage but is now very modern. Some of Dad’s original features remain, including a few decorative door frames. The anchors for our childhood swing set are still visible in the yard; the grass is pulled away to reveal our names carved in the concrete. The guest room I’m in was my bedroom as a kid.

I have had the expected emotional reaction to seeing the house – a glassy-eyed smile, if you can picture that.

Today is a good day.

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