Of Ghosts. Of Desire.

This summer, I spent four days in the 9th Ward of New Orleans. That is a little tiny piece of time, I realize: a little piece of my life and a little piece compared to those who live and work there.

But I will never forget the 9th Ward. When I see the anniversary footage on CNN, I think, “I have been there”. And it’s not that same “I have been there” that I say when I see a picture of Niagara Falls or the Biltmore Estate. When you actually see those houses with spray paint on the door, it is chilling. It’s not a movie set or a tourist attraction; it is the daily being of this neighborhood. I saw houses with spray paint from inspectors and then a reply from the owners, a kind of conversation on the front of a building. “Do not demolition. We are coming back.” In some ways, it is a haunted place…not the kind of French Quarter spirit, though. Even for an outsider like me, the memories, the longings, the desire are apparent. I tried not to force my expectations on my experience; instead, I stood still in the Place several times while I was there and let the Place explain itself.

I confess that when Katrina hit five years ago, I didn’t give it as much attention as I should. I had a four month old baby and a few challenges of my own. But being there this year, I felt a need to know and understand as best as I can.

There are and will continue to be enough news reports and opinion pieces on the situation in New Orleans. The situation is used as a political blame game, and I don’t want to get into that. There are stories of hope; there are children like the ones I met who are being taught to desire for and bring about change. But just to know the place, to see it beyond photos online makes this day, for me, one of remembrance.


~ by hannahcsykes on August 21, 2010.

One Response to “Of Ghosts. Of Desire.”

  1. Runs chills through me. You’re blessed with a way of describing things that gives you a sense of being there also. Thank you.

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