I love Oakland, California that is where I was raised. I am from New Orleans LA. There is nothing like going home to your roots. There is something special about where I'm from, all the history it carries and so many childhood memories. I could not help but swell up in tears as I visited my old stomping grounds. After the Essence Festival this year, I decided to stay in New Orleans and really take a look around for myself.
I was filled with so many different emotions throughout my entire stay, seeing the 9th Ward and many parts of the city patched up, yet still in disarray. I could not get over how four years later people are still living in trailer homes and there are abandoned homes with numbers. Despite the sadness and disbelief I felt at times, there were great examples of people who reminded me to be resilient.
Seeing people still there surviving, living in their homes and holding on after Katrina shook me. Whatever problems I have is nothing compared to what they are living through everyday. Seeing their strength made me proud to be from New Orleans. I have always come home and even received a key to the city by the Mayor. Still, I never really had time to stay long enough to reconnect with the place of my birth after Katrina. This time was the perfect opportunity.
I walked everywhere, saw everything, dined in every restaurant, in every neighborhood and the level of hospitality was consistent everywhere I went. I expected nothing less. The people were beautiful and helpful. I found myself reverting to my childhood ways of saying yes ma'am or yes sir. That was weird for me, I only do that around my elders, but I found myself saying it everywhere(laughing).
I went to church and listened to Bishop Lester Love preach and it felt like home. I was so overwhelmed with joy. It's like I had never left. I then realized something, I will always be connected to New Orleans even if I am not physically there all the time.No matter where you go if you are from there it's always going to be with you.
After church, which was my final day, I had to see the last place I lived before moving to California. When I finally arrived, I was almost breathless. I could not believe the place where I grew up was still standing. All those memories as a child came back to me. Through my eyes as a child, this place was bigger than life. Now it was small and I wondered how we all lived in this little house. I thought about how in the hot summers we would go fishing and when the water and soda ran out, we would sneak and drink hot beer ( laughing). We would come home and I would watch my step-dad clean fish on that porch, then my mom would fry it in cornmeal. We would play in the yard or watch my mom and her band perform in the neighborhood park across the street once a year.
I was such a tomboy, climbing trees and I'd always came home late after the streetlight came on. We had to be in before dark, but I never made it in on time, which led to me getting a switch from the fig tree that grew in the backyard. Fig tree branches have little knots in them. Those branches would hurt for days! I remember my first crush on my best friend. After years of being friends, I finally told him how much I liked him, after that he stopped talking to me (laughing).
I had to catch my breath a couple of times as I looked around my neighborhood. While looking around, I began to cry. Wow, look how far I have come...