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Scent of New Orleans, Magnolia, Flowers

The scent of New Orleans

There’s a scent floating in the New Orleans air that’s reminiscent of my childhood mixed with a fragrant burst of something wonderful that can happen any day now. Have you ever smelled a feeling in the air? I have, and more so being home now. It’s not that funky stinky scent that some complain of, but I think something wrong with their noses or shall I say perception of New Orleans. Those with turned up noses do not know what it means to love New Orleans. There may be those who survived Katrina and can still smell the stagnant waters and the mold that lingers in certain neighborhoods. But the scent I’m speaking of is a good one.

In New Orleans, even the thick humid air can smell of all things good. If you ever saw the cartoon “Woody the Woodpecker,” when there was something cooking the aroma would turn into a hand floating towards the person, motioning with its pointer finger to follow the smell. That’s New Orleans, except that you will actually get a taste of the delicious goodness that it brought you to, instead of getting hit upside the head by reality. The smells are a figment of your imagination, like when watching the cooking channel, the screen has you under a spell wishing for eat-a-vision and smell-a-vision..lol

Image result for the smell of apple pie calling you cartoons

Image result for the smell of apple pie calling you cartoons
Image result for the smell of apple pie calling you cartoons

I can’t say it’s the welcoming of thick humidity topped with airplane fumes that you can cut with a knife slicing off your first taste of New Orleans. I’ts not the sweet scent of blooming magnolias or jasmine flowers, nor is it the concoction of spices and seasoning such as garlic, lemons, onions that is boiling in a big outdoor pot awaiting give flavor to crawfish, crab and shrimp for a neighborhood seafood boil.. Nor is it the mouth watering smell when you travel to New Orleans East and greeted with freshly baked Bunny bread or roasting of coffee beans at Luzianne Coffee Plant. It’s not the muddy Mississippi or the swamp waters that releases the smells of underwater life. Nor is it the famous scent of liquor and piss soaked streets and sidewalk of Bourbon St or the French Quarter chef adding the finishing touches on the gumbo.. New Orleans has this scent, fragrance, aroma that is an indescribable blend of it all, but once those fingertips dance around your nose, giving you a whiff of it you will want to live in it, your sense will explode and your heart will swell. The scent of New Orleans is so intoxicating and there’s not sobering up, there’s no fix, but to be here.

Magnolia Flower about to bloom
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Jasmine Flowers
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Bunny Bread Factory on Downman Rd in New Orleans East
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New Orleans Crawfish, Corn, Potatoes and Pig Feet
New Orleans Seafood Boil: The end of 50lbs of crawfish & 6 dozen crabs

Today that smell brought me back to my childhood, maybe ten years old or so sitting in the window seat of my favorite cousin’s bedroom at their townhouse across the river in Algiers. We would sit, stare out into the mass of trees and the beautiful sky as if it was a paradise full of dreams to come true,talk for hours, plan out our dream lives with certainty that our spoken thoughts would come true.

We both spoke of a life living in big mansions with every amenity possible, from pools to our very own rose garden. We did not want the typical pets, no,we dreamed of owning chimpanzees and lions as pets with diamond crusted collars. We lived in the era of watching Michael Jackson’s magnificent life and just knew if his humble beginnings would lead to a life of stardom, we at least had a shot at a nice life as well. His life laid the foundation to our dreams..

Unlike, my cousin whose plan was to be a big time attorney and corporate executive, I wanted to be a mommy with ten children and to be a grade school teacher….Why, why, why, I’m thinking now, but I wanted to be like my Momo and in my eyes she was all things great. My Momo was a mother of nine and dreamed of being a teacher, but she worked as a nanny and then life took center stage.

So, looking back, my wish to be the “Lady who lived in a shoe with so many children she didn’t know what to do” wasn’t a bad life goal. My life as a mother, adoptive mother, foster mother, and Auntie Dee to my nieces, nephews and even kids who weren’t directly related to me enabled me to touch so many lives. My niece is a teacher, so in many ways our dream came to fruition through our family tree. . . Some days I wish I dreamed a little bigger, if only for me. It’s been a blessing to care for others, but sometimes I wonder what life would have been like not being a caretaker…

Maybe, it was just that intoxicating smell of what could have been that has me feeling like being a caretaker was a waste of my time.. There are days when I’m shown that my sacrifice was nothing more than a doormat for some… Maybe, it was just that intoxicating smell that has me feeling like there was supposed to be more to me. Maybe, taking the high road to the North, escaping a life of pain in New Orleans, only to find out that the trials of life travel the high road too. But you know what, it’s not over. The smell filled my spirit just at the right time. I served my purpose and I did a wonderful job taking care of others and now I can do me.

I’m back in the land where I was forced to escape, only to come back to show her that I did okay for myself, and I sense she is proud of me. Proud that I listened to the advice of my elders and stayed in Minnesota, proud that I survived an abusive marriage, well I continue to survive all that comes with life with a determined spirit. There’s no safe place, my life only got better, because of me. Things that had gone on in New Orleans happened in Minnesota—murder, sex, drugs, and the list goes on—it was there. I married a drug dealer in Minnesota, one of the biggest ones at that, but I turned it around and got out.

Years later, I’m home and she greeted me with wide-open arms, allowing me back home, to live in the promised land that my ancestors built for me. They made it here and I have full rights to claim my inheritance and live off their harvest. The fingers of aroma, made their way to Minnesota, tapped me on the shoulder and filled my nostrils with the loving soul of New Orleans, pulling me back into her bosom, filling my tummy with her milk and honey. I have no regrets for the days of yesterday. I know those who truly love me appreciate and love me for all that I gave up for them. They are in the stands cheering me on and some have found themselves caught up in the rapture of the scent of New Orleans and found their way back home as well. I realize it’s time for me to do something for me and I know they will support and encourage me on my new journey.

In spite of it all it’s unbelievable, it amazing that my life managed to be all that it is. I made out OK and even though starting over is hard, I’m the happiest I have ever been since I have moved back to New Orleans. I’m sitting here smiling for the first time at my life looking back over it all, I made it.

Yes, it’s my time, and I’m so happy that winds of New Orleans found me, it’s fragrant dipped finger tips lead me home is proof that the best is yet to come.

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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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