As part of NolaVie’s new Yeah you write! campaign, we are inviting readers to submit New Orleans-related content for a chance to have their work featured on our site. Whether it’s a personal essay about moving from New Orleans, a photo of French Quarter Fest, or a video of a second line, we want to know: what’s your New Orleans story?
Today’s featured submission comes from Angie Smoorenburg Garrett. “I grew up in NOLA and have (unfortunately) lived in Maryland since 2006,” Garrett writes. “I teach a Creative Writing class at a high school here, and love to do the assignments with my students. This assignment was to write about a place that ‘speaks’ to you.”
Cracked concrete under my worn-down Converse. Sidewalk chunks pitched up at impossible angles. Corners adorned with delicate blue-and-white Spanish ceramic tiles, spelling out “Rue St. Louis” and “Rue Chartres.” Centuries-old bricks, softened around the edges by stormy ladies spinning in from the Gulf. Still they stand, strong and stubborn. Old souls reside in these stones, peer from the windows and wear their footpaths in the streets.
Lacy wrought-iron adorns and embraces fern-draped galleries, galleries whose slatted floorboards shine stripes of delta sunshine into the walkways below. Motley rows of Creole cottages nestle comfortably next to gracious townhomes, an eclectic mix of strength and elegance.
This is a pocket of mystery, of age. A place where Voodoo priestesses and pirates mingled with politicians and generals. A place that bears the scars of floods and fires, corruption and heartache, but has the wisdom to cradle the scars. Scars are reminders to be careful, to choose wisely, to tape x’s on the windows, and to keep your batteries charged. Scars beget strength.
I ponder all this and more as I navigate the grid that lays out these blocks.
This city, my New Orleans, is who I want to be when I grow up. I see in her all the aspirations and desires I have for myself. I want to embrace my age with grace and dignity; I want to carry the wisdom gained over the years as my guide. When I do sustain damage to my body or heart, I want to be thankful for the second or third chances at survival, or even prosperity. When my bricks soften around the edges, I’ll wear the evidence of age with pride. I never want to look, sound, or feel exactly like my neighbors.
We have our own colors, our own inner music, our own vibrancy that is unique to us, and the joie de vivre comes not from matching one another’s, but sharing it in a joyful mélange. Walking Lady NOLA’s streets, absorbing the sensory gumbo that permeates her sticky air, my soul is fulfilled in a way that makes me sigh with relief, because I am she, and she is me.