Sunday, September 18, 2005

How many times do you get a second chance in life?

I’ve been a constant visitor to New Orleans since the early 90’s, there are weeks of my life missing due to being extremely inebriated, I’ve been in every shop on the French Quarter but there have been times when I’ve become lost and suddenly within the passing of a street found myself transported into the twilight zone. I’m a person who’s been to house parties in South Central LA (admittedly completely out of his element), see the worst of what the West Coast has to offer, been shot at in Iraq and have never been as scared as I one time I turned down the wrong street in New Orleans. One morning after a night of good times, a couple of buddies and I were driving about checking out the sights without a map. Hung over from the night before, we weren’t at our sharpest, just turning down roads that looked interesting when we noticed that there was trash and broken tree limbs in the streets, boarded up windows and the normal sounds of traffic has faded. We’re driving down a street that’s wide enough to have five lanes but the paint is faded, there’s not another car on the street that’s moving. Huh? I look at my buddy in the passenger side seat and because I’m looking that way, I see a large group of black men pouring out of a house and running towards my car, some of them had bats in their hands. I stomp on the gas, my tires squeal and we’re gone. What in the hell was that? Between one heartbeat and the next, my safe world had changed, since that moment I’ve been watchful of where I go. I have developed a mild amount of paranoia about stepping into the unknown, especially in strange foreign cities.

I know Katrina cost countless people their livelihood, but for some folk who were living in that twilight zone existence, this might be a blessing. An opportunity to start fresh with no baggage, there’s an entire nation who’s willing to pull these people back into the light. I hope that neighborhood got washed away and there’s not one brick standing on another. I hope that the people who were living in that borderland place decide not to go back to New Orleans and take advantage of the help that is offered to start anew. I hope they’ve been scattered into the four winds so when I finally take my wife down there, which I will someday when they rebuild, I won’t have to worry about wandering into that nightmare neighborhood again.

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