If there is anything "good" to come from the post-Katrina life, its that I've had an opportunity to document the rebuilding of my former neighborhood in New Orleans (Broadmoor). I've interviewed friends, seen quite a few of the houses getting refurbished, and measure the progress of my neighborhood with the progress of the City. Nearly rebuilt, patches of significant need, patches of missed opportunity, but for those who have returned both a sense of Resiliancy and ANGER that dominates the rebuilding effort of the "new" New Orleans.
I've completed basically two chapters of my book on rebuilding neighborhood in New Orleans (three if you count the introduction). It's now time for me to submit a complete book proposal to potential publishers to get this thing out the door by next year. I want to tell a story of how a neighborhood rebuilds after disaster--how the draw of both New Orleans AND the neighborhood brought people back, and how much our identities are imbedded in both the neighborhood and the City that we find it totally natural to come back to New Orleans. Where else would we go.
As I reflect on this, I realize that today (Jan. 5) marks the 4 year anniversary of my move to Harker Heights, Texas. On January 5, 2006, we were driving from Crossville, TN to Harker Heights and had made it finally into our new house. I would start my new job within a week--a faculty position at Tarleton State University Central Texas, and the reality that I would have an opportunity to build a new University. I was going to give the job five years at most before I would seek out opportunities back in New Orleans.
This has been a good move for my family, and given the current state of higher education in New Orleans and Louisiana, I fully understand that we probably will be here for more than the five-year plan I had initially proposed. I am now a "dean" equivalent at my school, and it would be difficult for me to find something similar to this in New Orleans. We have, as so many people tell us, "landed on our feet."
Still, the pull of New Orleans is strong. I guess I can accept the fact that I will be an expatriate for a number of more years. But I am looking for new ways to bring me back to New Orleans for longer periods of time. This summer, I hope to bring my daughter Cecelia down for a four-week internship in the City. This will give me an opportunity to catch up with her and to be in New Orleans for a long period of time. If this works, then I intend to do it every year.
These little things "will do" for the time-being. I only hope that something ultimately helps bring me back to New Orleans.