Nola Raindrops and Milk & Honey

I complained of the rain earlier, and two things hit me, #1 if the rain doesn’t fall, flowers can not grow. #2 I have anxiety after last years flooding when the pumps failed. I’m scared of the very rain that my Mama would open all the windows and doors to, and we would sit watching it. I used to love the sound of the storm, the feeling of the drops on my face, now that memory is replaced by memories of flooding.

After New Orleans recovered from the storm, after all the water-soaked in the earth and produced a bounty of wealth and opportunity for some, the very people who suffered through the rain, survived and grew from the waters of Hurricane Katrina, they are not reaping the harvest. There are plenty of people reaping the harvest by merely moving into the city, and it’s like they are giving seedling before coming here, to give them a jumpstart. While the actual locals, Natives are here hopping their seeds are magical beans…

As with all growth, we go through a process to get to fulfilling our purpose. Planting the seed requires pushing up thru the dirt, we need the storm/rain to soften the earth for it to come out of the darkness beneath the soil. So, many made it out the dirt, so many untold stories of a significant life tragedy lay still buried in the ground, but unearth itself as a mental illness at times.

So, like the farmer, we don’t mind planting the seeds as our ancestors did. We are fine with planning our goals desires, and dreams. We do not mind working in the fields which are now the very streets of New Orleans. We are willing to do whatever it takes to be here to enjoy the bounty.

You ever felt the raindrops hitting every crevice, every pore of your being and all you can think of how you don’t have an umbrella. It’s raining on the parade of your mind, body, and soul, and you want to give up. Not realizing that the raindrops are needed for your growth. We need rain to reap the harvest.

I’ll never say we need the storm to cleanse our city, like some fools, have uttered from their ignorant mouths. But I will say that Katrina happened and the city and our homes needed fixing. Sadly the renovations done to the most impoverished areas are immaculate, beautiful and very expensive to live in, especially for those who were affected by the storm. The city and state officials are doing a great job on beautification projects and urban neighborhoods, but it’s not for the lower-income New Orleanians. The very projects and wards I used to frequent to visit family and friends are now luxury condos and high priced shotgun homes; the former occupants are displaced, living in other states. We can not afford to live in the very city we poured our love and sweat into. The harvest of Katrina has not been shared appropriately with the natives that went through the storm.

The storm, the rain, the problems, hurts, and pain is growing us, strengthening us to be able to fulfill our higher purpose. Lots of New Orleans natives would have never traveled had it not been for Katrina. Some never went pass the Ponchatrain Bridge. The rental and furniture vouchers helped them to be able to purchase new furniture after losing hand me downs finally. Well, I wouldn’t mind having some of my grandmother’s hand-me-downs. I guess in a sense Katrina helped with that, but was given was not enough to equate their suffering. I don’t care if they didn’t have a chair, those who endured that deserved more. And if you ever go through something that horrible, you will feel the same. After you have walked miles in the water, with no water to drink, in the hot sun and survived only to move back home only to find some rich people were sitting on your neighbor porch. Wouldn’t that piss you off? How much is that worth to you? Would that free rent and furniture voucher cover that pain of all that you have gone through?? Living here and seeing how the wealthy transplants live is like being spit on.

Yes, we grew from the experience, learned from it, we sprouted up and pulled ourselves from the dirt. But it hurts to know how my people are treated. Which is why I want those who love our culture to really know our culture and what we go through.s

Just as with Katrina, those who lived here stayed or left before the break, and we’re rescued. Some had no choice, but to wait, suffer, endure, and go through the storm. They will never to be who they were before, but they made it. They made it through the water, thru the dirt and bullshit of the system. They weathered the storm.

The rain watered the seeds of their souls. As they moved through their daily routine, the seedling pushed up through the darkness producing a stronger and wiser, but still fragile. It’s in that last stage of growth that you realize where you have come from. You feel that you can breathe a little bit easier with the weight of the dirt is beneath you. You now feel the warm sun against your newly sensitive skin as you soak and bask in the glory of it all. Feeling somewhat better, you can tend to the ground around you. With your strong callous hands, you pull up the weeds, pluck out the bugs and pick up the trash. And before you know it you are in full bloom! Your seed has produced a bounty of fruit, and the land is flowing of milk and honey. It’s Harvest time in New Orleans, and you are strong enough to get up and reap the harvest! You gather your basket and head out to the fields only to find out that while you were drying off, healing from wading in the water to a temporary place to recover someone stole the bounty when you were at your weakest.

I truly believe that the people of New Orleans are due a portion of all the wealth that the city produces. I see and feel that this is the land of milk and honey. Which is why the people, the big businesses are taking over, and it’s not fair. The seed holders, the field keepers, the workers of New Orleans who endured the storm should reap the harvest, not the businessman, not the wealthy person and indeed not anyone out of reach with our culture. I have met several people who moved here, because the land is hot, not in temperature, but New Orleans has it going on. Most move here because they want to not only take the culture but change it into what they believe is New Orleans culture.

Let the people reap the harvest of the storm, the keys to the city need to go to the actual survivors of this land. Give them a taste of the cold milk and sweet honey.

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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