I have lots of thoughts floating around in my head but no clear focus, other than a longing for some semblance of a normal life that I know is pretty much impossible to have while living in New Orleans.
K was offered a position in Destin a few months ago, and we considered the idea briefly. But I think we both knew he didn’t have any real interest in it—my husband is a New Orleanian through and through. It was a very nice offer, but by the time we factored in the fact that my chances of finding a comparable job in that area were slim to none, we decided against it. Plus, the odds of selling our house right now in this market are, let’s face it—not real high.
Still, sometimes it’s tempting to put this city and its problems behind us. We briefly toyed with the idea of moving to Slidell—even went so far as to look at some houses on the market over there. But let’s face it—Slidell isn’t New Orleans. And despite how much house you can get for your money over there, and the fact that you can actually just walk into the local elementary school and enroll your child there—no waiting lists, no lotteries, and a solid, tuition-free education—neither of us could really stomach the idea of making that commute every day. And the thought of moving over there made us both feel like we’d be giving up, to a certain extent.
But sometimes I long to live in a place that’s well, for lack of a better word, normal. A place where the local newspaper isn’t running a seven-part series on a 17-year-old murder victim—because there are no such stories, as opposed to too many of them to count. A place where, as mentioned above, I could just walk into our neighborhood elementary school and enroll E. A place where the streets are paved and where people don’t have to find the humor in our atrocious streets by hosting birthday parties for potholes, planting flowers in potholes, posting “no lifeguard on duty” signs in potholes, etc. (All funny as hell, but I’d happily trade the humor for functional streets.) A place where we don’t need to have discussions about whether the mayor is a crook, is suffering from Katrina-related PTSD or just doesn’t give a damn. A place where I can still enter and exit the parking garage at work, even though we just had a heavy rainstorm, because the street isn’t flooded. A place where state senators don’t (allegedly) assault their girlfriends and then get lap dances. A place where our monthly electric bill isn’t comparable to our car payments combined.
At the same time, I don’t really want to leave New Orleans. I just want living here to be better—to be easier. The people of this city are what keep us all here, I think. The love of life that everyone here has, the love for this community. There is no other city like it—or at least none I’ve been to. Nothing can replace the sheer sense of joy I get from hanging out with both friends and strangers during a Mardi Gras parade. Or wandering around shouting “Who Dat” in the CBD before a Saints game. Or any of the other countless, wonderful and unique things and people this city has to offer. Again, sometimes I just really wish it was easier to live here. And I wonder what I can do—what role I can play, if any—to make our city better.