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Train to New Orleans: observation of travelers 

I’m on the train from Hammond to New Orleans, and I’m amazed at how excited the travelers sound & feel. It’s like nonstop chatter, kids with ants in their pants, some adults too. It’s like they can’t contain the feeling of being in New Orleans. Each voice had a different reason for coming to New Orleans, but the cheer in it was the same.

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I was trying to mind my business, even took to taking pictures of the train ride, but hearing them was a needed distraction. Their voices screamed one by one as if everyone felt that I needed to listen to them. “Man, that’s New Orleans right there” as we crossed over the Lake Pontchartrain, a child said to his Grandma “look at the Superdome, look, look!” as we enter the city lines we caught our first partial view of it. They jumped up from their seats, pushed their noses pressed against the windows to see as she reminds them of the announcement of staying seated once we were in the city. A missed boyfriend called his girlfriend to say “Bae I’m here, I’m in New Orleans!” His friend grabs the phone to tell them her ” We’re hours away, plus he hanging out with me after he worked on my nerves talking about you” only to confess that he’s playing with her.

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Not a good 1st impression… Like paying tourist are on the train, and this is what they see..? Where do all those millions of dollars in tourist money go? In the pockets of the New Orleans leaders, of course.
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Rebuilding a safer New Orleans…what with this wall??? Apparently, it didn’t stop the water nor crime or poverty
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The rest of the wall
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I wonder how far he walked & if he still feels love for the city even tho he looks hot, tired and just here…
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Our 1st full view of the Superdome

I hear soft cheers and gathering of personal items as the train conductor announces that we are three minutes from the gate of the New Orleans Amtrak Station. “Yayyyy we’re here!” The train stops and the love-struck guest and locals returning are lined up to exit before the doors are open.

They are so excited to be here, I can hear it, feel it, because it once was me. Maybe that feeling is still in me, if not having this experience brought it back to the surface.

Wow, Im thinking, as I am reminded what it felt like with my mouth ready to get a PoBoy, crawfish, a pig lip, potato chips, and a Pineapple Big Shot cold drink…

New Orleans has this magical feeling such as entering Disney World, but different. The city doesn’t give you a sense of opportunity waiting for you, or that it will be comfortable living but, love excitement and freedom to be whoever your heart desires. New Orleans makes you want to heal, start over from being broken. If you can relate to being abandoned, abused, mistreated, the center of gossip, told you are homeless or have no chance and willing to roll up your sleeves, dig deep into your being, your soul and believe in You then you know what it takes to enjoy being apart of New Orleans.

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We’re off the train; everyone is smiling, calling around shouting “We’re in New Orleans!” I wonder why there is the need always to use the word “New Orleans.” Why not say “We’re here “?? I have traveled to other countries, but I never announced “Hey, I’m in Jamaica” when I called my loved ones.

I hope they can hold onto that feeling because it can turn in an instant from something as simple as turning on the TV. If it’s not some political corruption, its some sort of violence or natural catastrophe. I honestly think it all stems from how the government services our city; they don’t. I do not believe the politicians even live in the town, which may add to why they don’t care. Even with all the bad, that happens here, people still come and always return.

New Orleans captures hearts, no matter the ethnicity or where they are from. People love living here; they want to be here if only the people in charge would care. Maybe, it will take for those who flock here to stop coming here. All it seems that is being done with millions of tourist dollars are lining the pockets of the corrupt leaders of the city, who do not represent what and who New Orleans really is.

All New Orleans wants is to be loved and cared for while she is going through storm after storm. She keeps her heart and arms open to all who come to her. She continually tries to feed our souls through the food, music, culture and all things that make her unique from other cities in the world. Advocate for my city, just don’t come to enjoy her, don’t use her wealthy resources to fatten your pockets, treat the people who love New Orleans so much that they stay here, endure hardships, and carry on, the locals are who keep New Orleans alive, without them/us the city would die. I hope that our leaders would stop being greedy and do what’s right for the town, so that each day trains, buses, cars, and airplanes are filled with travelers such as these, excited about all things New Orleans… let’s wait and see.

A native of New Orleans, who left her beloved New Orleans to spend twenty years of living in the land of Minnesota Not So Nice. Minnesota was full of opportunities but would learn that the soul of the state and the people who made it was just as icy cold as the temperatures. After the years and my 40th birthday flew by, I decided it was time to pack up my youngest child and come back to my roots, my birthplace the city that not only birthed me but gave me life. I would not be who I am without my New Orleans beginnings. I am all things that would challenge the belief of growing up in New Orleans. I was a 16yr old teen mother of a premature baby born with a severe medical disability. And only With the help of my mother, was it possible for me to BE! I was able to endure and survive the obstacles laid before my child and me. In a city that was built by my family, but did not allow for us to reap the benefits I overcame. Charity Hospital was my second home — a building filled with miracle workers who made it possible for my daughter to have life. I have lived a life of rainy days with peeks of sunshine, that are my children, including those not of my womb. I'm the proud mother of three and a grandmother of three. My dream was to live the life of the nursery rhyme of ”The Old Lady Who lived in a shoe,” and for the most part, I did. I cared for several children over the years as a special needs foster parent. I would learn that my love was not enough for some children, but I loved them through their pain. I'm not sure if I ever had a case of true love or came close to what love looks like on television, but I had my share of men and the mirage of love. I survived two abusive marriages. Though I longed to return to New Orleans on a daily bases, I must admit my move was one of the best decisions made for me. I am a college graduate; I was a successful entrepreneur. I coowned a soul food restaurant and catering company in Minnesota for 12 years. I developed the talent of creating custom cakes after the murder of my beloved cousin Melvin Paul. He survived Katrina only to go to Minneapolis six months later to be murdered over a parking spot dispute. But with the challenge of creating a simple wedding cake, I was able to find healing. I created the House of Cakes in honor of him. Minnesota life had me pretty materialistic. I worked to the point I do not remember much, but work and handing my children love money. I thought by having the big house on the hill, a husband, having a family, the ultimate provider and being involved in all things that matter, plus having the funds to match would cure me of what I was told was a generational curse of lack of everything from money, love to even self-love. But for the most part, that life poisoned my heart and soul. I was blinded by visions fed to me by the media. I was told I wasn't anything unless I was better than the Jones's. I lived being ok with a broken, bleeding heart. Life like this did not exist in my family while living in New Orleans from what I viewed with my eyes and soul. We may not have had all the things I acquired over the years, but we were happy, we were together. Family outside of New Orleans wasn't family anymore. We lived separate lives and had awkward moments when we bumped into each other in public. I hated living in Minnesota even though life their helped me in so many ways. I felt deep down the only way to repair it was to get back to my roots, my soul, my home, myself, my New Orleans. I'm here, and I love it. Even being in the so-called Blighted Area of New Orleans and not having all the financial and material security, I'm happy. I am determined that She, yes, New Orleans is a woman is just like me; together, we will overcome and will rise from all that tried to kill our spirit. Nothing like starting from the bottom and making your way back up!. I just know in my heart that New Orleans will provide for me. There's a bank account with funds in it owed to me by way of back pay for my ancestors. And I will receive my inheritance, and I will continue the traditions and customs of the old to keep the heartbeat of New Orleans beating. I'm down in the boot, living the life that feels right to me awaiting my destiny...

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