Thirteen years ago, my husbnad took a job in Florida and uprooted me from everything that I had known for the first thirty years of my life. For those thirty years, I had grown up in, lived, worked, got married and had my daughter in Louisiana. I didn’t know anything different. I worked with family and I could guarentee that if I went anywhere ‘in town’, then I would run into someone that knew me or knew my parents. I fully expected to live there the rest of my life.
As things go when you make those plans, plans unexpectedly changed. We moved. To Florida. Fifteen hours away from everything I had ever known. Let’s just say that I didn’t take it too well. It wasn’t like we had a choice. My husband needed a job and there was none to be found there. I had always thought that we would move, but maybe to another city within the state. I didn’t expect FLORIDA. The only parts of Florida that I was really familiar with was part of the Panhandle as this is where we would go for vacation. I had been to Disney World once, but seriously, that is just a bubble within Florida, so that didn’t really count.
After the move, Joel started work, Amanda started school and I, well I, got depressed. I missed everything. I missed my family, I missed the food, I missed FRIENDLY people. What people don’t tell you is that when you move to this area of Florida, you might technically be in a southen state, but you live surrounded by people from New Jersey. The Monday after our move, Joel handed me the keys, a map, said, “Everything is in a grid pattern, you can’t really get lost. If you get to the Gulf, turn around.” Uh, ok, thanks, that is real helpful.
Eventually,we settled in, I got my Real Estate license so that I would actually get out of the house, started knitting, met some Linda and Kathleen though a knitting internet group, and started making friends within Keller Williams where I worked. While I began to like living here, I still missed Louisiana, and I still do. I watched in horror when Katrina hit New Orleans, stared in disbelief when Rita took out southwest Louisiana a few weeks later, and more recently, teared up when a gunman changed Lafayette forever.
I often think about what it is about Louisiana that makes me long to go home. Everyone says that once you visit New Orleans, you never forget it and that she calls to you. Well, that may be true, but for me, it is the rest of the state. There’s just something about it.
It’s the friendly people, the work ethic, the willingness to help out a neighbor, or a stranger and expect nothing in return.
It’s the food. You haven’t had lived until you’ve sat outside in the late spring at a table covered in newspaper and a pile of crawfish, corn and potatoes in front of you.
It’s gumbo and LSU football on Saturday and Saints football on Sunday.
It’s the swamps of the Atchafalya, the Christmas Festival at Natchitoches, the hunting in the Kisatchie Forest, the fishing at Toledo Bend, duck hunting in Monroe and Mardi Gras in New Orleans.
It’s zydeco music in Lafayette, gospel music in central Louisiana, and jazz in New Orleans.