I was born in New Orleans. I lived in or near the area until I was 10, but my memories of my time there have faded over the years. When Fleur de lis and I took our trip to New Orleans one of the things I wanted to do was visit the house I lived in between the ages of 3 and 8.
Time and quite possibly years of neglect from her owners had not been good to her. The bushes were so overgrown the front door and windows were barely visible. The driveway also seems to have suffered the same fate.
We drove around the block where I scanned the houses for the one thing that stood out in my memory.
The catwalk. I have vivid memories of walking down this sidewalk between the houses in the middle of the block to visit a friend on the next street over. At the time I had no idea that most neighborhoods didn’t have these built-in shortcuts. Having the catwalk made an impression on me, but only when I moved away and didn’t have it anymore. Strange that.
We also drove around the corner to another place I walked to on a regular basis.
My elementary school. Despite the building being the same nothing about the place looked familiar really. Only the name and it’s location. I spent the better part of 3 years there, and I don’t really remember what it looked like.
After visiting the places I called home those many years ago we crossed the river to visit Fleur de lis’ memories of the Upper Ninth Ward. Years ago Fleur de lis had family who lived in the shotgun houses that dotted the landscape there. They were her home away from home. I was so excited to see the houses and the streets that were the setting for the story of her youth. While the Upper Ninth had changed quite a bit since her relatives moved away the houses were still there. I saw the stoop where she sat and waited for the Roman Candy man. I saw the corner store and heard tales of trips down the street.
Later we drove to the town she had lived in to see more houses and schools that were part of her past. I heard about college days and grocery stores and TV shows that filmed there once upon a time. And finally, with tears in my eyes, I met her parents in a cemetery in that same town.
I loved being there in those places and connecting like that. I had no idea how important this trip would be to me. It was something I didn’t even realize I needed. And I came home full and deeply satisfied.