I googled my house again today. My previous house. The one we used to live in. Until 2005.
I zoomed in until I could see the fallen tree in the backyard, and the play gym my daughter loved to climb on, and my white Corolla in the driveway.
None of those things are there anymore. Ruined by floodwater then demolished and carted away by demolition workers, they exist only in memory and in pictures.
Google Earth keeps them fresh for me.
I don't know why I do it, but every now and then I like to google my house to see it again. It makes me feel sad, and regretful, and happy, and proud. All these emotions assault me, they wash over me like the rising tide of flood water certainly flowed over and through my neighborhood.
One of these days I'm going to zoom in on Google Earth, and instead of brown, dead lawns and lifeless streets I'll see vacant lots and greenery. One of these days the numbing, rampant destruction will fade from view. One day, I'll stop being sad about what happened to me, my family, my friends, my city, and my nation when the floodwalls failed.
Today, I have a "new" house in Faubourg St. John. I have new furniture and new clothes. I still work at the same place, but I have a new job and a new car. Almost five years later and a lot has changed. I've changed. A lot of that change is good.
But I keep going looking back.
There's a new drama premiering this weekend that takes place New Orleans, and I'm eagerly anticipating it. Because the story starts just a few weeks after Katrina, New Orleans is going to look brown and lifeless--just like those aerial photos of my old house I keep looking at.
I'm hoping "Treme" can get it right. New Orleans took one monumental beating in 2005, some saying the city would not survive. Many souls were lost, but we did not lose our soul. Houses were made unlivable, but we didn't lose our sense of home. The darkest hours this city probably ever saw could not extinguish the light of hope from its citizens.
New Orleans survived. Against all opponents--weather, politics, hatred, apathy and greed just to name a few--we persevered.
It's healthy to look back. We need to know where we've been to understand where we're going. Even after all the ruined houses are demolished or repaired, after all the flood-borne damage and blemishes are removed and Google Earth loads new photos of New Orleans, we will still remember.
But I hope we will remember not only the failures, but the incredible strength of humanity on display in New Orleans in 2005 and since.
That's the story "Treme" needs to tell. That's the story that needs to be told.