"A time comes in your life when you finally get it when in the midst of your fear & insanity, you stop dead in your tracks & somewhere inside your head cries ENOUGH!
Enough fighing,crying or struggling to hold on. And like a child quieting down after a blind tamtrum, your sobs begin to subside, you shudder once or twice, you blink back your tears and through a mantle of wet lashes you begin to look at the world with fresh eyes"...Author Unknown
It took me more then a minute before I was able to connect the dots that I had come a full circle once I had moved into my new digs. I was so happy to have moved downtown and with the unpacking, exploring and figuring, I did not see the obvious that was right in front of me. Until the day I decided to go on a walk and ot the the path I usually walk. Of course I knew about the housing development coming up behind me which was the last remaining housing projects in New Orleans. Depending on what side of the fence you sat on, there was a lot of emotions about the need to tear down to build up. Sometimes it is needed, albeit painful, but still necessary to break a painful cycle.
I did not have the same emotional attachment to that property as many others who lived there several decades, raised a generation or two in them, but I could at least in theory emphatize in seeing your old way of living being torn down or destroyed because good, bad or indifferent, it was yours.
And whether you perceived, that you had no say in the matter as the powers will be may view you, in your eyes, as not deserving of that say is tough to swallow. It doesn't mean you don't have a say, it could be perception and no more then that.
When I first heard that this housing project was being prep for demolition a few years ago, I decided to go by and walk through it. The majority of the residents had already moved out. I had a reason why I needed to go as I, too, had lived there very briefly, 6 months or so in the early 70s. Scared, pregnant, young, two small children and separated from my husband. I was so grateful to get that apartment! The rent was $35.00 per month for a 2 bedroom with utilities included, hardwood floors very, very nice. I recalled it being, each section, very family oriented although I did not have any friends.
I now know now fully grown & not as naive, that there were those messy gosspy folks, but I did not see much of the negativity that people claimed about the projects around me with the exception of the woman adjacent to me that was prostituting to support her family to augment her meager income rom her job. But she was kind to me, we did not hang out together and she was very discreet, but yes she was prostituting.
So why did I take that walk? Was I being nostalgic, sentimental, wanting to recall the good times? I cannot be really sure as I did not survive ther or New Orleans, in fact, very long. It was too much for me, far to overwhelming. I did not have the necessary roughness to survive her. It was too much for this sensitive dreamer.
But what I did, in that walk 2 years ago and then again in September 2014 was to marvel over that time, 43 years to be exact, between 1971 and 2014 what & where I had been, done and experienced in that span of time. How little did I know,in this last attempt to function in the place of my birth, that I could end up in nearly the very same place, I started.
I could love out from the rooftop of the building I reside inat the hospital I was born, where my son Donovan was born and subsequently died in and finally look through that passage of time in a curious, oddly detached but in peace and comfort. This time returning back to New Orleans when I did in Spet 2009, I did not flee. I always joked about my managing 5 years here befor I had to go. My tolerance level was about 5 year before I had to go. As of today, I am in my 6th year. Who's to know, I may still go away again one day but it won't be because I was forced out or it became too much.
There were several griefs I had to manage that are intimataely tied to this city. Not just that of my son. In the process of living and exploration, I learned & processed a lot of things, people and places. Not unlike many others. Living is very powerful if you do it well. Or even if you don't do it well, it will surely kick you in the butt. I kept coming back like a boomerang to finish up that work. I could only anage so much and had to go away to process it.
And for those who might read and rush to judgement about my putting down this old city, I am not.
I am reflecting.
You actually may be surprised as to the end results and how you may be more ready for change then you thought.
I observe some in my building work anxiously and feverishly to reconstruct what they thought they had although it was obvious it was/is counter-productive. But they'll be fine at the end of it all. And if not, they'll find some place to continue running in circles. Or they'll adapt or adjust and find a new rhythm.
The old Iberville Housing Projects under construction to be reopend in 2015. It will not be called "The Projects" then.. Words are powerful.
Where I am today( in a sense of irony). The building to the right was the former Texaco Coporate headquaters converted to senior apartments adjacent to the Ibervile Housing Apartments. Who would have thunk it that I would literally end up living a shotgun from what you will see below.
Except I now have a wealth of experiences and a life since that time scared, young single parent
Now see the old building,my old apartment in the Iberville Housing Apartment before they started demolition 2 years ago. Ironically this is one of the buildings they preserved. I was in the upstairs apartment with the balcony. Despite what anyone wants to believe nowadays, these were beautiful apartments with a great community back then.
|Iberville Housing Project 2009|
So what have I learned in those 40+ years?
"You learn to open up to new worlds & different points of views. And you begin to reaccessing and redefining who you are & what you stand for. You learn the difference betweeen wanting & needing and you begin to discard the doctrines and the values you've outgrown or should have not bought to begin with. And in the process you learn to go with your instincts.
You begin to sift through all that you've been fed/about all you should have/ how you should look/ how much you should weigh/ what you should wear/ where you should shop/ what you should drive/how & where you should live/what you should do for a living/who you should marry/what you expect in a marriage".