Another Voice: The Spirit of New Orleans by Michael Weatherly Trentacosta

 

Me and Michael at his lasagne party last Christmas in NOLA

Me and Michael at his lasagne party last Christmas in NOLA

My friend Michael tried his hand at blogging this morning on Facebook. It was so good that I thought he should extend his platform. Down here in Louisiana and Mississippi, today is an infamous day. It the anniversary of a day when everything changed. It is one of those days that divides time forever. You know who you were and where you were pre-Katrina and how you were changed post-Katrina. For a long time, locals called this area Katrina-land because it was the thing that divided this place from the rest of the world.

 

Monument to the victims of Katrina in St. Bernard Parish

Monument to the victims of Katrina in St. Bernard Parish

By Michael Weatherly Trentacosta

It was 9 years ago this morning that the unspeakable happened across the Louisiana and Mississippi Gulf Coast. Being one of many across the world watching the events thereafter unfold on TV, I never really knew how closely it would affect me until just a few years later when I met Darren.

Watching from the comfort and safety of our homes afar, we saw some of the worst in people that day. We judged and made bold statements about what we would have done. We pointed fingers at what we, as outsiders playing Monday morning quarterback thought the people of New Orleans should have done. We forget that the city went through the hurricane itself fairly well considering its strength and size. It wasn’t until some were returning home after Katrina passed that all hell broke loose. Unfortunately many remember and focus on this part of the story, but there’s much more to it.

I have the privilege of knowing many of those people who are now my family and friends. The word resilient doesn’t even describe them. If giving up even crossed their minds, it was a fleeting thought at best. Together, they have rebuilt the city into a most magical place again, even among the reminders of that day.

Katrina also demonstrated the devotion to family and friends in New Orleans. They all long for the time, pre-Katrina, where Sunday family dinners happened every weekend, a baby sitter could be found for a night out without ever getting in a car in any one of at least 10 homes on your block, and the people of their neighborhoods were all part of the family, whether blood or not. They celebrated things big and small. It was about being together. Masses turned out for recitals, graduations, birthdays, and crawfish boils. They never felt alone…and they weren’t.

Family and friends are now scatted across the region. It’s certainly more difficult now, but the devotion to be there for even the smallest of life’s events still shines through. People will drive sometimes hours to participate in a child’s birthday party. Although it might not be as often as they would like, they continue to be there for each other. And if you ever were stranded on the side of the road, your phone is filled with countless numbers of people to call who would be there without question, no matter what they were doing or how far they had to come to reach you.

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For those of you who have visited, New Orleans captures you heart and soul. I firmly believe there’s no place like it on earth. It’s captivating, romantic, full of such great history, and home to the friendliest, most welcoming people I know. Strangers are always welcome….but be prepared, you’re considered family on your next visit.

Today we remember those that were lost. Families that were torn apart and had nothing left of their homes. Katrina was a devastating bitch. She was wicked. She took so much away from a people who are one of a kind.

A Lasagne Christmas Party Last Year

But today we also celebrate the people of a city who, through their tears and pain, would never give up. It wouldn’t crush them. They wouldn’t wallow in it. They rebuilt. They harnessed the spirit that has lived throughout the city for centuries prior to recapture the love and magic that is, and always has been, New Orleans.

So go for a visit…and soon. Whether you come for a few days or end up making a life there, the city becomes a piece of you. You will be better for having known New Orleans and its truly remarkable people.

6 thoughts on “Another Voice: The Spirit of New Orleans by Michael Weatherly Trentacosta

  1. Beautifully written, Michael! My heart aches for New Orleans and her people. Some of the best times of my life were spent in that wonderful city, and the people of New Orleans are a special breed. Thanks for sharing.

    • Thanks Jascia. The resilience in people always amazes me in the face of adversity. It is truly a gift and motivating to see.

  2. Well, Dahlin, you did a fabulous job with this blog! You were right, it was very uplifting and in the true spirit of Louisiana. Here in Houston, we received many, many evacuees from New Orleans. Mark and I worked with a group of people that helped with things like cell phones, message boards, clothing, food and just sitting and listening to human beings who had just lost everything. I think we will all have our Pre and Post Katrina lives. xx

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