As part of NolaVie’s 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 is from Elizabeth Schreiber, a recent graduate from Benjamin Franklin High School, who, on the verge of leaving for the University of Georgia, put down her thoughts about what it means to be a New Orleanian.
I am a daughter. I am a high school student. I am a soccer player, and I am a dog lover. But above all, I am a New Orleanian.
As a child, I had a weird fixation with reading street signs. Whether we’re talking about the big thoroughfares like Poydras or Canal or the small side streets like Delord or Solomon Place — I know them by heart. I have never used GPS in New Orleans. I can tell you the history of the French Quarter, divulge the locations of the best stores on Magazine, and show you where the floodwaters of Katrina were the highest. I can tell you about my city.
When people ask me where I’m from, I don’t need to qualitatively broaden my hometown to a state. New Orleans is all they need to know. It brings to mind festivities, football, food, and fun. I buy all my festival tickets months in advance. I have never missed watching a Saints game. I judge food if it doesn’t have the same spice and flavor of that down-home ‘Nawlins style red beans and rice. And I am never lacking in opportunities for adventure.
New Orleans may be a little rough around the edges; it may be considered to be a little dirty or a little dangerous; but the stumbling blocks make the city what it is: a community. I have never been to another city where you see a friendly face everywhere you go, a face with an old soul. The people who I surround myself with here in New Orleans are of a unique set. A real hodgepodge — different races, different socioeconomic situations, and personal backstories form the Crescent City’s diverse population.
I’ve heard tales of the families on top of their demolished homes as the rain crashed down, seen the enthusiasm in people’s eyes during Mardi Gras, and felt the ecstasy of the city when the Saints brought home the Lombardi trophy for the locals to treasure. Sean Payton said it all after the Saints secured our boys a spot to play in the Superbowl: “This stadium used to have holes in it. This stadium used to be wet. It’s not wet anymore. This is for the city of New Orleans.”
I shed tears almost every time I go over a bridge in New Orleans, emotions bubbling up inside of me as I take in the landscape — I can’t contain them when I see the lights of downtown glimmer and the muddy Mississippi gleam. The Big Easy has made me stronger. It has made me lighthearted. It has made me grateful. Grateful for the opportunity that I have had to live in a city that’s more than just a city, a city that’s a community. New Orleans born, New Orleans bred, and when I die, I’ll be New Orleans dead.