Katrina: New Orleans Must Come Back from Grave
Rick Bragg reminds us of why New Orleans was unique–and what a great writer he can be.
This Isn’t the Last Dance (WaPo, Sept. 2, A29)
Ever since I was barely in my twenties, I have loved the way some men love women, if that means unreasonably. I fell in love with the city and a Louisiana State University sophomore on the same night, eating shrimp cooked seven ways in the Quarter, riding the ferry across the black, black river where fireworks burned the air at Algiers Point. I drank so much rum I could sleep standing up against a wall. The sophomore left me, smiling, but the city never did.
There is no way to explain to someone who has never lived here why every day seemed like parole. Every time I would swing my legs from under the quilt and ease my toes onto the pine floors of my shotgun double, I would think, I am getting away with something here.
I cannot stand the idea that it is broken, unfixable. I look at the men using axes to hack their way into 100-year-old houses to save people trapped there by the suffocating water. I know there is life and death to be fought out for a long, long time. But I can’t help but wonder what will come, later.
My wife, as wives do, voiced what most of us are afraid to say.
“I’m glad you took me there,” she said. “Before.”
We went there on our honeymoon.
How long, before that city reforms. Some people say it never will.
But I have seen these people dance, laughing, to the edge of a grave.
I believe that, now, they will dance back from it.