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Dear America

From the Times Picayune.
Dear America,

I suppose we should introduce ourselves: We're South Louisiana.

We have arrived on your doorstep on short notice and we apologize for that, but we never were much for waiting around for invitations. We're not much on formalities like that.

And we might be staying around your town for a while, enrolling in your schools and looking for jobs, so we wanted to tell you a few things about us. We know you didn't ask for this and neither did we, so we're just going to have to make the best of it.

First of all, we thank you. For your money, your water, your food, your prayers, your boats and buses and the men and women of your National Guards, fire departments, hospitals and everyone else who has come to our rescue.

We're a fiercely proud and independent people, and we don't cotton much to outside interference, but we're not ashamed to accept help when we need it. And right now, we need it.

Just don't get carried away. For instance, once we get around to fishing again, don't try to tell us what kind of lures work best in your waters.

We're not going to listen. We're stubborn that way.

You probably already know that we talk funny and listen to strange music and eat things you'd probably hire an exterminator to get out of your yard.

We dance even if there's no radio. We drink at funerals. We talk too much and laugh too loud and live too large and, frankly, we're suspicious of others who don't.

But we'll try not to judge you while we're in your town.

Everybody loves their home, we know that. But we love South Louisiana with a ferocity that borders on the pathological. Sometimes we bury our dead in LSU sweatshirts.

Often we don't make sense. You may wonder why, for instance - if we could only carry one small bag of belongings with us on our journey to your state -why in God's name did we bring a pair of shrimp boots? We can't really explain that. It is what it is.

You've probably heard that many of us stayed behind. As bad as it is, many of us cannot fathom a life outside of our border, out in that place we call Elsewhere.

The only way you could understand that is if you have been there, and so many of you have. So you realize that when you strip away all the craziness and bars and parades and music and architecture and all that hooey, really, the best thing about where we come from is us.

We are what made this place a national treasure. We're good people. And don't be afraid to ask us how to pronounce our names. It happens all the time.

When you meet us now and you look into our eyes, you will see the saddest story ever told. Our hearts are broken into a thousand pieces.

But don't pity us. We're gonna make it. We're resilient. After all, we've been rooting for the Saints for 35 years. That's got to count for something.

OK, maybe something else you should know is that we make jokes at inappropriate times. But what the hell.

And one more thing: In our part of the country, we're used to having visitors. It's our way of life.

So when all this is over and we move back home, we will repay to you the hospitality and generosity of spirit you offer to us in this season of our despair.

That is our promise. That is our faith.

Chris Rose for The Times-Picayune Chris Rose can be reached at noroses@bellsouth.net.

Seen in neworleans

Comments

( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
sweetcharity
Sep. 9th, 2005 09:33 am (UTC)
I saw this on beccak1961's site and just had to come over here and say hi! What a wonderful post! I hope you don't mind if I add you to my f-list?
I don't even know what to say about what all you've been through! I can't even imagine what it must be like.
Here's wishing you the best! I can see by reading your post that you have an amazingly upbeat attitude!
silverdee
Sep. 9th, 2005 10:05 am (UTC)
Thanks for the kind words. It's always good to make new friends. I'm adding you back.
weelisa
Sep. 9th, 2005 12:49 pm (UTC)
There's not a lot of places I particulary want to visit in the US, but New Orleans was actually one of them. And not at Mardi Gras either - but during a quieter time. It seems to me that the place is rife with "characters" - my favourite type of people.

I certainly understand people wanting to stay in their homes and in their city - I can appreciate and respect that fierce attachment to place.
silverdee
Sep. 9th, 2005 01:55 pm (UTC)
I was really tempted to stay. And I know a lot of other people who wouldn't have left if not for the strong possibility of a direct hit from a Cat. 5 hurricane. Juannie and I waited as long as we could to decide. We are all still in a daze around my office. It will probably take a long time to wear off.
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )

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