A friend, CO, was at a bar not far from my house. It was a Wednesday afternoon, hot, muggy, strange and there was nothing better to do. He sat down and an older man sitting next to him asked CO where he was from. New Jersey, said CO.
"What brings you down here, baby?" said the man.
"AmeriCorps," said CO. "I rebuild houses."
"You like the city?"
"I love it here," CO said, holding up his High Life and taking a sip.
The man's tone went dark. "Get out now."
CO was taken aback. "What?"
"Get out now," the man said. "Because if you don't, you'll never leave. Trust me. You'll fall in love and never get out."
Last week a fifteen year old black girl was shot to death in the Desire neighborhood. A week earlier her boyfriend was shot and killed in more or less the same area. The Times Picayune says that the best the police can do is say it's about turf warfare or schoolyard brawling.
"There are so many ways to make a left turn in this town," AC says. We're trying to navigate through the streets of the Marigny and we are not being successful. AC instructs to make another right turn. No one has any idea where we are, but this does not seem to bother AC.
"You can make three right turns. You can overshoot and make a u-turn. You pull down a driveway, back up, and go straight down the way you wanted to..."
"Yeah," said AY, "you can basically do anything but make a left turn."
"But it forces you to be creative."
Six years after Katrina, there are still several thousand people who haven't been able to rebuild their houses.
The Greater New Orleans Community Data Center said the number was around 10,000 in 2010 and since then people have played with the statistics (five thousand, eight thousand, and so on) because no one really knows.
There are so many mysteries about this place. It might be useful for the ambiance, but it's hell for a grant writer.
L and my house sits near the end of a one-way street in the Fairgrounds. There is no direct way to get there by car except by way of an elaborate dance through the other one-way streets surrounding it like a labyrinth. There is, however, an intersection of two main streets which our road runs into, but you cannot enter the street from this point.
AC was driving with us home one day. L stared down the entrance to our street. "Why can't I just drive down that way? It would be so much faster. Why can't you enter there?"
AC shrugged and said, "Do whatever you want."
"Really?" L asked, looking over at him.
AC nodded. "Really."
So L drove down the street directly to our house. No one tried to stop us.
New Orleans made more sense to me suddenly.