New Orleans: Then and Now

My Where Were You When-esday, which will probably be the last, is dedicated to New Orleans.

Not because its been five years since Katrina.

And not because its been five months since the oil spill.

But because its been nine years since I first visited New Orleans.

My first trip was in July 2001 for the Romance Writers of America annual conference. I was there as an editor, meeting with my authors and coaching would-be authors on writing a good category romance.

I had brunch at the Commander’s Palace, rode the street car through the Garden District, drank a hurricane while walking along Bourbon Street, spent time in the courtyard of my hotel journaling , and fell in love with this city whose spirit – and by that I mean ghosts, too – inspired me to write. I couldn’t wait to return to capture that inspiration once again.

When Katrina hit, I feared the New Orleans I fell in love with was lost. And it was but I don’t think Katrina is to blame, at least not entirely.

I think what changed more is me.

On this most recent trip, I was terribly homesick and missing our son. I couldn’t tolerate the heat (its still quite humid there in September) or the smell on the streets. The crowds and excessive drinking along Bourbon Street were too much for this thirty-something mom of one – the one time I did indulge, I was ready to call it a night at 9. And I didn’t feel the least bit inspired to write.

I was so disappointed. I really thought it would come right back, the inspiration, the need to capture that sense of place with words.

This is not say my husband and I didn’t enjoy our trip to New Orleans. We toasted our friends who got married. We walked and walked and walked around the French Quarter. We got caught in a torrential rain storm and laughed our way through it back to the hotel. We spent quality time reconnecting.

And maybe that’s inspiration enough.

Have you been to New Orleans since Katrina? What’s your impression of New Orleans, then and now?

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