Posts Tagged: new orleans

New Orleans {Heart}

Fall of 1994:  Visited with Michael for the first time during the Thanksgiving holiday.  Embarrassed as I am to admit this: I never even knew the city existed.  I never knew the history, and I surely didn’t know that I would fall in love with the sights, sounds, and smells.  For someone as texture oriented as myself New Orleans just did it for me.  Instant attraction.

Summer of 1996:  Moved down as a newlywed.  This was my first time living away from home and I had tons of growing up to do.  If I had it to do over again, I’d do it way different.  But, the girl that I was here, at this stage, is not the woman I became.  It’s easy to be all “hindsight is 20/20”, but in actuality it’s really not that easy.

Summer of 2002: Visited with the kids and Michael.  Michael and I also stayed for a night without the kids.  It was hot as hell, and being as out of shape was no help.

Winter of 2009:  Visited with my big girl camera.  This was made possible by being contracted to be the photographer for the Tide – Loads of Hope.  This experience was one that (my camera and) I had been dreaming about for years.

Spring of 2013:  Visited with the whole family as part of our Redneck Food Tour.    It was awesome to enjoy New Orleans with the big kids at the ages they are (15, 14, and almost 13), and while Davey wasn’t too keen on all the walking he had a blast, too!

New Orleans, LA – You will always have my heart.


Happy Mardi Gras

“A king cake (sometimes rendered as kingcake, kings’ cake, king’s cake, or three kings cake) is a type of cake associated with the festival of Epiphany in the Christmas season in a number of countries, and in other places with the pre-Lenten celebrations of Mardi Gras/Carnival […] In the United States, which celebrates Carnival mainly in the Southeastern region (Louisiana and New Orleans in particular), it is associated with Mardi Gras traditions.  The cake has a small trinket (often a small plastic baby, sometimes said to represent Baby Jesus) inside, and the person who gets the piece of cake with the trinket has various privileges and obligations (such as buying the cake for the next celebration).”  [via Wikipedia]

We got our King Cake from Kroger, a little while ago, and the kids are anxiously awaiting the moment we cut into it. Davey’s actually right here chirping about “can we cut the cake now, Mama”, and “who’s gonna get the baby, Mama”, and “is it time to have the cake now, Mama?” It’s annoyingly cute, especially when he’s wearing an over-sized gold necklace that was thrown to me, at one of the parades, in 1996.   I can’t wait to go back to New Orleans for Mardi Gras.  Someday…

Not only is it Mardi Gras, but it’s International Women’s Day, too.  So, to all the women out there, happy day!

The Ride of [My] Life

The year was 1997
I was due to visit “home”
So I hopped on a Greyhound bus

And, set off from Louisiana to New York
On a thirty-two hour trek
A journey where I would meet many folks

I wore ripped jeans
Listened to loud music
Content in my own bubble

All the way up to Birmingham
No one had taken the seat beside me
Feet up; I was relaxed

After a smoke, waiting for the rest to board
I admired the lone empty seat on the bus
It was the one next to me

The door opened and in staggered a greasy bum
I closed my eyes and wished him gone

Pointing at me, the driver said, “There…next to the girl in red”
I huffed as I moved my bag
Trying my best to avoid making eye contact

His stench was repulsive
I held my fingers to my nose
To smell familiarity and prevent vomiting

Finally, in deep darkness, the bus pulled into the next stop
I sat in the very back
Next to a black man with broad shoulders

He shared his story with me
Army experiences, sadness, and despair
He was in the first Gulf War

Then he showed me the marks
The ones he called  “Gulf War Syndrome”
Everyone listened with intent

We continued to talk the whole trip
He offered me his cold, fried chicken
And, to this day I regret not taking a piece

In the early hours
I finally caught some sleep
Soon we were in Ohio

Almost to New York
I grew tired of the bus
Where I mostly missed the use of a real toilet

During the last stretch I spent time
Having my nails painted by a little girl
She couldn’t have been more than five

Her mother blessed me:
“One day you’ll make a great mom!”
Maybe it was a prophecy

For when I would return home from this trip
In a hand-me-down car with my best friend and a boy named Ben
Michael and I conceived our first child in the blue room of our house

That trip somehow defined me
I grew so much from the moment I stepped on that Greyhound bus
It started me off on the ride of my life

Remembering Katrina

I was devastated
I didn’t move from my bed
I watched the news and shook my head
The city that I loved lay in waste

Though time has passed
I can still recall those feelings of dread
And while I have since returned to embrace her
I simply can’t believe it’s been five years since the storm

It feels like it was yesterday
Since I was there as fresh newlywed
Since I prayed for her to hold on
Since I was there last

Still, daily daydreams take me back
Where I walk the streets
Smell the shockingly distinct smells
Of that one city, the city I love….

New Orleans, Louisiana

{New Orleans: A Set on Flickr}

“Once you choose hope, anything’s possible.”—Christopher Reeve

He turned around and waved.  His smile said it all, and it said things like thank you, I am filled with hope, and I have been shown the kindness of man.  To me it also said this was more than just a clean bushel of laundry.   This was more than time not spent sitting at the washateria.  To me this was a small gift that had a lasting impact on the people it helped.

One-by-one I was witness to this gift.

She didn’t want to tell her story, but she didn’t mind her picture being taken.  Then I noticed all the small clothing.  She was a mother who’d fallen on hard times.  Those hard times can fall on any of us [mothers.]   After the photo was snapped I mouthed the words, “Thank You” and she mouthed back, “No, thank you!”

I imagined her hugging a little boy later that night, drawing him close, and smelling that wonderful, freshly laundered scent.  The scent filling her with more hope than we can even put down in written word.

She was a firecracker, and she talked, and talked; while I listened and listened.  That is also a gift:  Listening.  It’s the gift of being heard.  It’s the gift of knowing that someone cares enough to listen.  Since Katrina she had been taking her clothes to her neighbors, and to her son’s and daughter-in-law’s house.   They didn’t mind, but she felt rude always imposing on them.   As quickly as she said that, though, she got choked up and said, “But I don’t think I ever would have made it without my family, my neighbors, and my friends.”

Her name was Susanne, and she was grateful for the help—every last bit of it.


There is a common thread that runs through us, and that I fully believe is Hope.   Once you realize it, it can fill you when you are empty, it can lift you up when you are down, it can light you when there is nothing but darkness, it can help guide you when you are lost, and it is the most precious of gifts.

Hold steadfast your gaze
Of everlasting grace
Pray with a loving faith that
Everyone will receive this GIFT


The trip I recently took to New Orleans to listen to stories from Katrina survivors, sponsored by Tide, was an absolute blessing to me.    Not only was I surrounded by wonderful people, but I met some people whose stories moved me.

That’s the power of  story-telling.

I needed this trip back to my most favorite city in the world.  A city that will forever remain in my heart, and one that I definitely know floats on hope.

To read more stories of hope, go to Blog Nosh Magazine.
To read more stories of gifts, go to {W}rite-of-Passage.

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