Thursday, April 30, 2009

The Same... Yet So Different.

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...

Things change.

Life changes.

Sometimes life can turn out so different.


  1. Isn't it nice to know you left all of that in the NOLA?

    You damn sure didn't bring that to Atlanta. You speak of a different you that I never knew from the years of reading you.

    I'm glad I know this you. All that stuff needed to be left there, and it looks like it got washed away when Katrina hit.

    YaY you!

  2. Anonymous1:22:00 AM

    My very 1st apartment with ian was in Frenchman wharf. we lived RIGHT on the lake. OMG 1st time i saw a Neutra rat chilling I was ready to pack up and move. went to the office 1st thing in the Am and they trying to tell me it was a beaver or something equally insane.

    we moved soon as the lease was up. Michoud here were come! lol

    MY FAV snow ball combo... cherry margarita. 2 gummy bears please :)

    we attended Beacon light.

    I was just asking my friend if We Never Close had reopened.
    Next time we go home we'll have to make it out there..

  3. I know what you mean about things being sooooo different. It's amazing.

  4. If I see another snowball from either you or LB, I'm gonna jump off a building. LOL! Or maybe I will punch the computer monitor. Hee Hee!

  5. @ Hassan... A different me indeed, Man. But I think I needed the N.O. experience, as it helped shape what I am and what I consider important...

    @Patrice... They say EVERYBODY'S first apartment down there is in Frenchman's Wharf. Funny!

    First time we saw the nutria rats, we thought they were large beavers or prarie dogs or something. Nothing worse than a 30 pound rat that looks like a beaver. And a whole family lived in the lake.

    Snowballs- Girl, they had like, a 100 different flavors, didn't they?
    And I found a stand in the ATL last weekend that has the same soft, fine as sand, ice that Rodney's have! GLORY!

    UBC- I attended that because it was closeby. Beacon Light- heard of it, but didn't know where it was!

    We Never Close- still good, but not quite the same. I think because of the remodeling. Or maybe it's because I hadnt' been there in 8 years!

    @Chele... I know that's right. I learned from N.O., that things CAN change, and not to get bogged down and depressed, thinking that they will NOT change... Best lesson I ever learned.

    @Serenity... Hush, gal. You just mad 'cuz you don't have a snowball stand in Charlotte. HA!

  6. Anonymous11:06:00 AM

    Dang, what kind of car did you rent? A Lexus?!

    Everytime someone talks about NO, I get mad b/c I've never been down that way.

  7. @Leezie - Y is Southerngal mad when all she has to do is take a trip?????????????

  8. Yeah can only be said by a native.

    Didn't recognize any of the places you mentioned --but I grew up on ALL of the above...

    Did recognize New Orleans East -- two of my siblings lived there --one refurbished her severely damaged home --off of Read Rd --the other tore down her house -- I belive off of Dowman Rd--you know how New Orleanians can give jack worth of'll wind up in Mississippi following any directions from a native.

    Of course my familia was very much impacted by Katrina...not to mention that I almost lost my freakin' mind sitting here with the TV blazing and talking to the screen and rockin' and holdin' myself like a retard. My folks speak a "special language" -- even on TV I could decipher what they were saying -- and I wanted to help. "If they'd only let me in --I can help these folks..."

    I won't opened up my Katrina can of worms with this...I have yet to show anyone outside my household ALL of the 'after pictures' that I have -- I cried rivers...and I still cry... just laced with a little more anger.

  9. @That Southern Black Gal...Girl, the insurance is what skyrockets the car rentals down there. I had some type of Suzuki car/SUV hybrid that was 40 bucks a day. The rest was INSURANCE! UGGGH!

    I FULLY understand the skittishness of the insurance companies. The streets are JACKED up down there. Just BAD. So they were saying at the rental place that insurance skyrocketed after the storm.

    (Why didn't the N.O. natives warn me of such)

    @Serenity3-0... Don't count Southern Black Gal out. I make sure to stand against the wall when that chick start thinking about stuff. You know, she might bust out, and I don't want to be in the way. You know how she do: that chick will be up and headed on an N.O. road trip before you know it!

  10. @Cyncere Sista... It is quite daunting, even as I was driving to friends houses. You can see devastation everywhere.

    It's real strange that the brunt of it happened in New Orleans East. Hmm.

    Yet we have enough money to fight in Iraq. One should Sweep off one's own porch before one goes sweeping off somebody elses.

    Let me STOP.

    Dowman and Reed Blvd got hit pretty bad. Even the old Wal-mart is still boarded up. ugh.

    It's okay Cyncere... N.O. will rise again!

  11. Amazing... I somehow missed this post. I think God knew I wasn't ready when you wrote it. Every spot you mentioned is near and dear to me. I wasn't ready...

  12. What namely you are writing is a horrible mistake.
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