One of the most wonderful things that happened during the first quarter of this year was that I actually took a vacation. This vacation was special, as it was my first vacation as an adult.
I've blogged much about the cruise portion of the vacation, but I also hung around in New Orleans for a few days after the cruise.
I rented a car ($250 for 2 days! YIIIIKKKEES!!!), and got a chance to drive around to some of my old haunts.
It was great to go back to my old job and see some of my friends and coworkers. That was a big victory for me, overcoming the fear of going back to that place. (I promised myself once I left that I was NEVER coming back. EVER.)
I even drove past my old church on Lake Forest.
The UBC!!! Upperoom Bible Church was the place to be, babes! This place really got my faith back on track, on the road back to where I'm trying to get.
I swung by We Never Close on Chef Hwy.
"We Never Close" was exactly what the name says. It was a fast food joint that NEVER closed. We would leave the ATL to go back to New Orleans at 9 in the evening, and roll into New Orleans around 2 or 3 a.m.
And there was always a crowd at We Never Close around that time of the morning.
They had the best shrimp po-boys!
I couldn't even eat all of that. I put it on ice for the flight back to ATL.
I swung by Rodney's, the best Snowball Stand in New Orleans East.
Got myself a lemon-lime snowball.
(My brother use to like half-in-half watermelon and peach; I used to get half-in-half blackberry and lemon, both which have been retired for the spring. So I had to settle for lemon-lime. Sigh.)
All of my old hangouts were pretty much the same. Some were still getting back to normal after the storm, but nevertheless, they were as I remembered them.
Save for one place...
The place where I use to live in New Orleans East... Frenchman Wharfs Apartments off Crowder Road.
The apartments were completely gone, wiped out by the storm. The 20 acre lake was still there.
Now, I'd first heard about this some two months after the storm. Yeah, you hear about stuff on television, but to hear a first hand account is a whole nother story.
I came across some dispaced New Orleanians in a local College Park U-haul Truck Rental center. They were returning their truck. They's said how they'd packed their things and drove 12 hours back to ATL.
"Everythang gone, baby," they said to me, in their classic New Orleans accent.
I leaned against the counter, rattled off a few places in New Orleans East, like my old hangouts I talked about above. Even asked about some of the familiar neighborhoods in the 7th and 9th wards.
"Alllll gone, baby!" the ladies kept repeating. "We drove over that way, where you talking about and it's allll gone. Looks like a bomb hit the place."
"Even Frenchman's Wharf?" I asked. "I lived there for a couple of years!"
"Gone!!" one of the young lady said. "Baby, it is GONE."
She stretched her hands out wide. "We drove around over there, and all I could do was cry!"
And she was right. All gone.
I couldn't believe the place I once lived was now just trees and debris. I could still see the path I walked to get to my apartment. It was the same path I took when I would get off the public bus from work everyday.
The 5 minute walk down that path to my apartment was always my time to get myself together, to gather my thoughts before I got home. Hopefully no one was there, but either my husband or brother-in-law was.
Let's just say, the apartment was a place that I just didn't want to be. Walking that path was my own little piece of "alone time" for the entire day. It was on this very path that I prayed a prayer from my heart that was the turning point for my whole life.
It was the beginning of that "something" that would take me from a place of depression to a place of victory...
We all have those moments in our life, where we KNOW the exact moment when things changed. That was this place.
This place which was now a desolate wasteland.
I would've stepped out of my rental car and at least walked up to this fenced off path that once led to my New Orleans home. But I didn't think it was a good idea, since I was alone.
But I sat in the car, shed a tear, and remembered...
How even though sometimes things feel the same...
Sometimes life can turn out so different.
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