Escape of the Day: New Orleans

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Get on a plane and go to New Orleans.

My trip there this weekend was my first in 20 years. As a teenager, I fell hard and fast for the silver-painted street mimes and hot jazz , scheming for a Tulane education that I ultimately couldn’t afford. Failing that, I tried again to connect with the city two years ago, when I signed on for volunteer gig with Habitat for Humanity’s Gulf Coast Recovery Effort . Instead of heading for the construction site, though, I wound up heading for the office, as simultaneously I was offered a full-time job.

The best things come to those who wait: At sunset in Friday, I finally returned to the Big Easy. After living amid the soul-numbing materialism of Atlanta for a few months, I needed its spirit and fervor like a shot in the arm. I am in awe of the way its pulse keeps thumping, even in the wake of tragedy.

I know I’ll be back … perhaps next time swinging a hammer.

“Apocolypse and beauty, so much death. How are we still alive? That’s what I wanted to say to somebody. And I love you, tired city, Without you I am dry-hearted, dull and slow-beating. It’s summer and the heat’s laying in, flooding deeper up through your side streets on drowsy waves. I’m not here, but I know wide rivers still wind down to you. I’ll always come back soon; don’t move without me, don’t take a single breath.”

— Ada Liana Bidiuc from “After the Storm” ( Oxford American, Issue 57)

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