Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Good morning America, how are ya?

...said don’t you know me? I’m your native son.
I’m the train they call the City of New Orleans.
I’ll be gone 500 miles when the day is done.
(Arlo Guthrie)

I have a special place in my heart for that song—partly because I love trains and locomotive history (what the railroad did to and for our country; fascinating stuff), but also because it calls out by name the city of my birth.

We actually lived in Metairie, New Orleans’ first suburb (south shore of Lake Pontchartrain), but of course I was born in the city because there were no hospitals in the suburbs back in the mid-sixties.

My stay was short. Only two years. But I remember snatches of memory. I remember Café du Monde. I remember going to the park with my Papa after Mass on Sunday mornings. I remember cutting my thumb on my dad’s pocket knife (though why it was in a place where a kid my age could reach it was never a question I asked). I have pictures of Mardi Gras (my mom, my older sister and I dressed as angels, my dad and younger sister as devils), though I don’t know if I have my own memories or if they’re a patchwork of other people’s memories and stories I’ve been told.

I haven’t talked about Katrina. I’m not sure what to say that hasn’t already been said more eloquently by someone else. I don’t feel entitled to complain—I don’t feel like the loss is mine to mourn. And yet... somehow I feel like a tree that’s lost its deep roots.

I feel like I’ve lost my personal history.