Tuesday, September 06, 2005


I'm of two minds this week. I'm thrilled about my new job - I want to shop and buy new clothes and new shoes and call everyone I know and tell them how happy I am. And my heart aches when I think of all the people from New Orleans who suddenly have nothing - no jobs to go to, no homes, no clothes, nothing.

I visited New Orleans three times. The first was in college, for a sorority conference the summer before my senior year. We stayed in a large hotel and our time was heavily scheduled with meetings, meals, and organized touristy events. I remember a dinner on a paddleboat with jazz music. I also remember being surprised that so many of the girls, especially from the south, were the stereotypical bland sorority girl. In my college, our sorority chapter was filled with the smart girls, the not-perfectly-pretty girls, the nice girls. (We had other names on campus of course, none of which were that nice.) The southern chapters looked as if they were filled with pageant queens, girls with perfect rolled hair and pearls. (Granted, this was the early 80's, and in my preppy northeast private college girls wore pearls with Izod shirts and sweatshirts.) But the kicker was when a girl from somewhere in the midwest leaned over to me at lunch and nodded at the waiter who was taking our plates and whispered, "I've never seen a black person up close before."

My next visit was about a decade later, with my grandmother and cousin. I had my first iced coffee down in the French Quarter - and it opened my eyes to the wonder of cold coffee drinks! Even now, forced to be caffeine-free, I am weak at the thought of a decaf iced latte from Starbucks. The last time was to see a friend who was living there for a few years. We had a different kind of fun - the kind you get when you visit a city with someone who is familiar with it - although my strongest memories are just of being with him and his friends in their apartment.

I looked through my photos, and I don't really have very many of the city. I tend not to take very many touristy shots - I think I was forced to sit through too many "and this is me and Uncle Joe, in front of the Eiffel Tower again" pictures in my childhood. My goal has been to take interesting pictures of the people I'm traveling with, and let them be reminders of the trip.

My grandmother was a real video camera junkie - she spent most of our trip with the camera in front of her face, capturing everything for the future. It drove me crazy - I told her that she wasn't enjoying the city in the present, that she was preserving a memory she wasn't even having. Now I think, gee, Grandma has a video of our trip to New Orleans and I kinda want to see it.

Faces blurred to protect privacy. (Even the dude in the background I don't know.)


Blogger jane said...

How nice that would be for you & grandma to sit & watch the video.

12:38 AM  

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