The family is reunited: my wife and daughter returned to New Orleans this week and we all three have moved into a comfortable if a tad overpriced apartment in the Riverbend neighborhood. I've met a few neighbors and it seems like we're all displaced homeowners.
There's good and bad in that realization. First, it shows the resolve of homeowners like us, who lost it all in the flood, to stick to it and to make this old gal we call New Orleans pretty again. But it also begs the question, where are all the people who used to rent these apartments?
The two women who vacated the place I now call home left town and do not plan to return. They went to New York, where they have found jobs and new opportunity. Even though they're paying three times the rent for half the space, they don't think they'll come back for many years, if at all.
So therein is the problem. It's going to take more than love to nurse New Orleans back to health. It's going to take jobs, schools and housing. And that, I am certain, is going to take years.
The great philosophers Lennon and McCartney said, "All you need is love." On one level, they were right. I don't really need all the stuff that got destroyed in my flooded home. All I really need is my family.
But on another level, they are totally wrong. Love alone will not restore New Orleans. Love will not bring back her freaky, creepy, wonderfully irreverant diaspora. Love will not bring back the houses and the gardens and the families. Those things will happen only with much blood, toil, tears and sweat.
If I sound pessimistic, do not worry. Lennon and McCartney also advised us that, "In the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make."
We're here, and we're ready. We love this city, and we are not giving up on her. We're flipping the finger at Katrina, Rita and all her kin. We're swinging hammers like there's no tomorrow. We have bumperstickers that say, "Make Levees, Not War."
Yeah you rite.