Because every woman has her own journey.
New Orleans is a massive melting pot of goodness: traditions, music, diversity, joie de vivre, food, and architecture. Statues, tarot readers, musicians, restaurants, vendors, and more. All of which are distinctive to my hometown. We are American, it’s all we know. I’d argue that no city in the world is remotely like N’awlins. To be from NOLA is to Laissez les bon temps rouler aka Let the good times Roll.
True, Mardi Gras is huge, but there has always been much more to NOLA than that.
Then comes August of 2005. Unthinkable. Unreal. Terrifying—and precisely on my birthday. Hurricane Katrina hit my hometown, and nothing was ever the same again. Nothing- not even remotely. Am I a strong woman? Well, I never quite thought so. Mamaw did give me a gris-gris for luck, and it has always served me well, but strong? Couldn’t fully claim that one. When Hurricane Katrina hit, we had to leave - without thinking. It all happened so quickly; we didn’t even process it. It was like a bomb hit us right in the face, but we somehow survived. My city was broken, my people had died. I was 15 at the time. On my mom’s side, our relatives in D.C asked if all was fine-- no damage, you okay?
I was not okay.
We were not okay.
I didn’t think we’d ever be okay again.
Our home was gone. Our photos, our memories, our stuff. All our stuff—was gone. All the little things I never knew I cared about so much was gone, vanished. Cliché, but what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger—that’s for sure. I went on to become an environmentalist in New Orleans, a city I witnessed firsthand torn by environmental racism. I cannot singlehandedly change the climate, but every ounce of awareness helps. I never married; but adopted an 8-year-old daughter who lost her parents in the Hurricane. We may not be genetically related, but we certainly speak the same language. Am I strong? Hell Yea.
Hazel, New Orleans, Louisiana