Editor’s Note :: New Orleans Moms Blog seeks to honor the voices of all moms living in Louisiana. This post is one local mother’s personal perspective on her experiences moving back to New Orleans. We ask that you read the author’s post to seek understanding and – should you desire to weigh in – that you engage respectfully. We understand that some of the issues contained within barely scrape the surface of the true complexity of living in any urban setting.
Upon Moving Back to New Orleans
Exactly one year ago, my husband and I sold our quiet, mid-western home in Kentucky to begin our life together in New Orleans. I grew up here, but I’ve been gone for 13 years. After moving to Florida, Georgia, Mississippi and Kentucky, my husband’s job finally allowed us to move home.
After seven exhausting months of raising our first child with no relatives in sight, I was thrilled! Finally, date nights with free child care. Music festivals with my favorite Cajun foods and flowing wine. Saints games, drive-thru daiquiri, Jazz Fest, oh my!
What came next…
People joke about the pot holes in Lakeview, funeral processions, crime and the excruciating heat. The fact that we moved to New Orleans at the end of summer made my husband and I think that we were already “winning.”
We settled into our temporary uptown apartment in the Lower Garden District while looking for a permanent home. My husband wasn’t available to view all of our housing options, so I picked this one because last time I checked the garden district was safe.
I felt like I shot myself in the foot.
After taking my first walk around the neighborhood with our eight month old, I decided I wasn’t going to walk anymore. I passed a woman with blood covering her face. I was approached by a homeless woman after getting in my car. I took Mary Ellen to the park where homeless men were bathing in the fountain and sleeping off their hangovers on the benches.
I didn’t go anywhere on foot for a solid month.
We will just take the car.
Instead of taking advantage of our “walkable neighborhood,” we drove. We drove around the endless construction on Jefferson, Napoleon and Louisiana Ave. We drove down Magazine Street during rush hour to Audubon Park. We drove a half mile down the street to get Hi Volt coffee and pastries. I couldn’t decide if I enjoyed being in my car with an unhappy baby or an apartment where the windows were too high to see out of.
My friend in Baton Rouge was still on maternity leave from her second child, so we packed up for a day trip. Just after the City Park Avenue exit, my tire light comes on followed by a rumble. We pull over into a nearby parking and wait for AAA to fix my tire. They say it’s a side scuff likely from a bad pothole.
Tire fixed. Heading back home when we run into a funeral motorcade that closed I-10 for 20 minutes. At that point, I felt like someone was playing a cruel joke on me. I posted on Facebook “In a dead stop on I-10 for a funeral procession (no pun intended). New Orleans, I thought we were friends.” It got a lot funny comments, but I was still in shock that moving back to my home town with a baby would be so hard!
And then there was a second line.
After that month, I was so stir crazy and frustrated. No strolling down St Charles Avenue. No success finding our permanent home. No music festivals.
Mary Ellen had just woken up from her afternoon nap when I heard music coming from outside. It was a second line! I felt like it was the light at the end of the tunnel. I grabbed a beer and the baby, and we danced in the doorway while the second line passed.
It finally hit me. I need to adapt to my native city’s motto and just go with it.
I pulled out the mace and personal alarm (my mother in law gave me when we told her we were moving back home) and decided if someone was going to hurt us, it was God’s will.
We strolled around the neighborhood every morning, waved to the homeless people in the park, bought our roadie drinks at Avenue Pub, and even found some friends in the neighborhood.
La Vie Jolie
We finally found our home in Old Metairie in November. While packing up our suitcases, I felt like I might miss the uptown chaos and danger. When people ask me where I’m from, I usually say New Orleans – not Kenner or Metairie.
After living in five other cities, I can proudly say I love this city – the music, the oak trees, the locals, the food, the history. What other place on earth can you make fast friends with the cashier at Rouses and confidently ask “where did your daughter go to high school?”
I’ve come to realize some of this city’s biggest flaws are what make it unique. You have to take the good with the bad.
Sure, I might have to talk to homeless people on my walk. But at least I can take a cocktail with me!