As I read the Sunday Times-Picayune today (who doesn’t) and got to Chris Rose’s column – it made me pause and caused me some extra soul-searching this week. You see, no matter how much I write about my experiences over the past year and 5 months (wow – time flies) since my family moved to the Greater New Orleans area, I can never write a post about Father’s Day and tie it in with Katrina. I am just TNKOTB (the new kid on the block) and you know what – there is nothing wrong with that! I have created a huge following of a different sort – one that I have built from scratch just by writing like a fiend almost every day for the past year for the sake of making a positive imprint in my community!
Just today, I stood at the Old U.S. Mint with my family, our tummies full from crawfish and spinach bowls, chicken on a stick, shrimp wrapped in bacon, holding an open container of cold beer in public, while toe-tapping and head-boobing to JJ & the Zydeco Dog Pound performing. Then it happened, I had an epiphany…my family DOES FIT IN! We need not apologize for our background, our upbringing, our travels around the US as a Military family before “choosing” to land here! We ARE part of the GREATER New Orleans post-Katrina culture. And dammit – we are trying to embrace and learn everything about the culture and take it all in- including the things you may have taken for granted!
We love the food, we embrace the people, we tap our feet to the beat of your (our) music, we voraciously read all local books, we now recognize “iconic” people in the area – past and present, we appreciate Louisiana’s political history…but we also bring you us. For better or worse – you get our backgrounds and New England heritage and military family culture! Just throw us into your big pot of Gumbo and make a flavor rich with a new kind of history. We teach our children about where we are now, where they cam from and what they can contribute to their society…and that is all they care about.
And WOW – is it ever a compliment to walk through the French Market on a Sunday and hear people yell out, “Hey – Kiss My Gumbo!” That is when I realize – there is no need to apologize for me not being here before Katrina, but for me to embrace the people of the Greater New Orleans area as my brothers, my sisters – my new family – so we can all move forward together! I love you New Orleans & Louisiana. You are my home – where I belong!