Jackie from Gramercy, Louisiana, isn’t looking back. ‘We a post-Katrina couple,’ she told me proudly of the man she’ll marry this weekend. ‘We havin a blue-jean weddin, doin it our way, since we both done the deal before.’ Her before was definitive and, in definitive south Louisiana fashion, pronounced something like bufowah. ‘My ex-husband, he got some things uh mine there’s a court order for me to go git, but I just about don’t care anymore (ehnymowah).’
‘Lookin forward, sounds like,’ I said, ‘No use in lookin back.’ She gave a start and nodded. ‘Yeah, that’s right!’
It is now October of 2009, four years after the Gulf Coast was buffeted by the now-proverbial* storms of 2005. Finally – finally – the city feels to me as Jackie sounded: Looking forward. There’s a mayoral election around the corner. Groups like 504ward and PlayNOLA are coming up with creative ways to build on the tide of young professionals flowing into the city. There’s finally a comprehensive plan and a central office for coastal restoration, even if the funding hasn’t come yet. The Saints are winning! And conversations don’t all revolve around the storms and how people ‘made out’ anymore.
But don’t for a minute think that all this fancy forward-thinking has anybody forgetting why they stuck around. After having told me all about her wedding, Jackie wheeled the conversation toward Gramercy and their Christmas Eve bonfires. She assured me it’d be every bit as fun as Mardi Gras as long I as I’m ‘fine with drunk Cajuns and fireworks. Cause if not, boy, I tell you what…!’
Drunk cajuns, fireworks and a whole region lookin’ forward? I could get fine with that.
*Note: In the original version of this post, I misspelled proverbial as porverbial. Phonetically, I think that’s indicative of my generally poor verbiage. My apologies.