Thursday, February 16, 2006

La la, how the life goes on

Ob-la-di, ob-la-da. Truer words were never spoken.

I've been traveling a lot lately, getting out of New Orleans and seeing how other people live post-K.

A few weeks ago, I went to Tampa for the weekend. I ate curry chicken at a Jamaican restaurant and drank Red Stripe. The place was almost empty. The pizza place next door was packed with college kids. They ran out of beer, so the collegians came over to The Jerk Hut (that's really what it was called) to keep the party going. They liked the beer selection, but they didn't care for the music.

Let me tell you what they have in Tampa: civic pride. They had a street party that weekend, and nobody littered. I saw more than one beer-drinking party-goer go out of his/her way to drop a cup, a can, a plate, into a trash bin. It was almost unbelievable.

On the way from the airport, the cab driver apologized for the condition of the streets. "This street is long overdue for resurfacing," he said. I sat still and waited for the bumps and the jarring jolts that I thought would validate his statement. I felt nothing more than the light clump of the expansion joints as we sped down the highway. Sorry for the condition of these streets? I wanted to tell him I'd buy every street he had in this condition and ship them back to my town.

When I flew back to New Orleans, the city was a wide sea of blue roofs. And I would swear that I could see the trash and potholes in the street from 5,000 feet.

Life goes on, bra.

Earlier this week, I was in Shreveport. The people up there are sympathetic to New Orleanians. They offered me help. "Call your state representative," I said. "Tell them to back the single levee board." They looked sad and said, "Do you really think that will help?"

On the local talk radio station, the subject was rebuilding New Orleans. Callers used words like cesspool, corruption, fiefdom, and they likened the single levee board proposal to rearranging chairs on the deck of the Titanic. They talked a great deal about what would not work, but I didn't hear anything about what would work.

When I got back, I talked to my Darling Wife again about how we would rebuild our house. Ten feet off the ground. Steel-reinforced concrete walls and enough hurricane straps to tie down a jumbo jet. And most importantly, a fireplace. Never had one of those before. Now's our chance. Now is the time to dream and build the home we always wanted.

With a couple of kids running in the yard.

1 comment:

Sophmom said...

After leaving the house I'd lived in for twenty years (and the marriage associated therewith) and moving into my first apartment, I find myself blessed with a fireplace and happy with every onset of cold weather. It's a fabulous theraputic tool. I highly recommend it.

I don't mean to offend, Tim, because I have fallen truly in love with your fair city, but you are right about the litter. It was one of the first things I noticed. *sigh*