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Casual Conversation in post-katrina New Orleans #21

By January 13, 2006katrina

As I got my haircut yesterday, Miranda, the young woman from Houma who was snipping away at my gray folicles, was talking about various mundane things.  She said she enjoyed the holidays this year more than usual.  Why, I asked?  Because there wasn’t the pressure to have a certain kind of gathering.  She and her family got together in a very informal way and just relaxed.  Miranda had a good time at New Years, discovering a new restaurant with her boyfriend that she would never had found had it not been for the fact that she waited until the last minute to make reservations and found that it was impossible to get into the better known restaurants.  In short, Miranda struck me as very adaptable and largely optimistic.  I asked her directly how she viewed life in New Orleans these days.

"It’s okay I guess," she began. "I have lots of work and I love this city.  There is no other city I’d rather live in."

"So you are planning on staying then?"  I inquired.

"I don’t know."  Her voice was lilting. "I’m going to give it until next May and see how things are.  I’m not happy with the politicians.  Why can’t they make decisions that have to be made?  Why are they wasting so much time?"

"Well, what would have to change for you to want to stay?  What’s the main thing that you are looking for?"

"The levees," she said without hesitation.  "I’d have to know that the city was going to be made safe.  I don’t want to live here if they can’t rebuild the levees right.  I’m not going to live here unless I believe they are going to fix the levees."

"So, if you didn’t live in New Orleans where would you go?"

"I don’t know.  This is the only city I ever wanted to live in, and I think it’s the best city for me.  I’m not sure where else I’d live, maybe San Diego because it’s warm there and pretty.  I’ll have to see.  I’m planning to take some trips in the next few months to check out some places I might like."

After further conversation with Miranda I was left with the impression that she was definitely a cheerful person who loves creativity and has a passion for the offbeat.  She loves New Orleans, but she’s not sure she can stay.  I wonder how many other young people have the same thought pattern as Miranda?  I’ve heard more than a few people say that they have a certain timetable for deciding whether to stay here.  And I know a few who have already left.

Everyone is weighing their options.  And, for some reason, it makes me sad.


P.S. If you appreciate these kinds of observations, you might want to read this as well.

4 Comments

  • Stephen Terrell says:

    Ernie —

    I clicked to the comments to say that you need to put together a book on the Katrina experience — and I saw someone beat me to it. But I second the thought. You write so very well — something I truly appreciate. And the reason you write so well goes far beyond grammer and structure — You go to the heart of the matter — and you carry with you the true heart of the city. Mark me down for an advanced copy.

  • Aaron says:

    Unfortunately, I’m also doing some of that. Between future residency programs for the future missus and the landslide of job opportunities for me, I’m keeping an eye out for affordable bar study courses in other states.

  • Looking forward to your book on the impact of Katrina on the people of New Orleans. Perhaps more importantly the story of the city’s comeback with vingette’s like this.

    The people you meet like this and have told us about would be great subjects for 5 to 10 minute video vinettes that could be broadcast by video blog. It would be great to see you hook up with my friend Steve O’Keefe (no relation), of Patron Saint Productions who does brief video work like this in the publishing industry. Steve’s been involved in Internet publicity for the publishing industry for 7 or 8 years.

    But then again you’ve got a real job and a lot else going on.

  • Kinch says:

    For those of us with a bit of the pioneer streak in us, New Orleans is the only place to be. I could have moved back to Baton Rouge where I’m originally from but its too safe and too boring.

    Being on the vanguard of rebuilding of the city give me great pride and great motivation to be here.

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