Monday, May 07, 2007

A wedding, a jazz fest, a Cinco de Mayo and a realization

Adam and I headed to New Orleans for a weekend of celebrations. A celebration of love, another celebration of jazz and heritage and yet another of the Mexicans victory over the French.

Friday’s wedding and the reception that followed were nice. (Gave me a chance to figure out what I would or wouldn’t do at my wedding. A little premature since I don’t even have the groom yet.)

Jazz Fest was awesome. It was my first time and I didn’t know what to expect. I knew there were going to be a lot of people, but I was amazed at the amount of people in chairs, on blankets, standing and dancing in every available grassy area. But it was a lot of fun. A lot of good music. A lot of questionable activities going on…but all fun.

Later that night we headed out to try and find some Cinco de Mayo festivities to partake in. Unfortunately, we got a late start and didn’t get into much related to the holiday. Instead we went dancing and Adam did quite an entertaining dance number to a Michael Jackson hit.

Through all of this I was looking around the city trying to imagine it as it was about a year and a half ago after Hurricane Katrina. Many of the houses still stand vacant with a large “X” on or next to the door. FEMA trailers are still spread throughout the city, many next to homes tenants haven’t been able to repair and move back into.

I find, just like I can’t imagine what it must have been like during the hurricane’s aftermath, I also can’t imagine how they’re gong to get it back the way it was or how long it will take.

I used to go to New Orleans a lot when I was younger and the last time I was there was 3 years ago for a family reunion. This trip I could definitely feel a difference. I know it was always a tourist destination but along with the tourists there was a strong presence of the people that were from there and not only created the "New Orleans experience" but lived it.

Those people, true New Orleanians with all their Cajun culture and flair, were noticeably absent this trip.

I know they’re now spread across the U.S. but I hope a future visit can be a type of homecoming celebration after all the culture, eccentricities and natives return to New Orleans.

I know my feelings about this aren’t original and have probably been talked about excessively since the hurricane, but what do ya’ll think?


Adam Kealoha Causey said...

Just for the record, while my "number" may have been entertaining, I certainly wasn't the only one cutting any rugs that evening. (Or morning, I should say.) "Number" makes it sound choreographed. I'm not sure that particular strut is written down anywhere. And doesn't everyone like Michael Jackson songs? Even if they don't like him.

Melinda Williams said...

I'm really sensitive about this subject because I grew up not too far from the city and the old New Orleans was one of my favorite places and you're right, Janelle, the city does feel different. It just seems quiter and sadder, which in turn makes me a little sad.
And I'm sure Adam's dance was entertaining.

Donecia Pea said...

I hate I missed Adam's dance AND John Legend, of course, lol.

But y'all already know how I feel about New Orleans. I'm a Dillard alum, so that was my home for four years and it's definitely not the New Orleans I remember at all. When I went last July, (which was nearly a year after Katrina) I can't lie, it was pretty emotional to see the city still in so much despair. Many of my fave spots were just ghost towns. Folks like Melinda had warned me, but it still couldn't prepare me for that.

I just couldn't see how in the world they could come back from that.

And to hear folks still saying the same thing now, nearly 2 years later, just really makes it seem hopeless down there.

On the other hand, I just heard the other day that the city has regained at least half of the pre-Katrina population at this point, which should seem like a glimmer of hope. But that doesn't automatically mean the real flavor of New Orleans is back.