On June 15th, 2005, I registered the domain name iHeartnola.com. To be perfectly honest, up until several years ago, I had always remembered it being registered days after August 29th, 2005, and certainly remained firm on it’s original inception. It was surreal to look back and research it’s beginning and realize in a very David Fincher way that I had almost being lying to myself all those years.
My family and I begrudgingly left behind most of what we all owned, and like so many others from around the metro area, took whatever we cherished the most and headed out of town. Fifteen hours later, and countless hours of WWL, we ended up in small town Arkansas soaked in uncertainty. The days that followed were filled with tears, doubt, and sleepless after sleepless nights. The small TV in the hotel’s lobby was our only connection to the madness. Hour after hour, and day after day, I became masochistically entranced by the sheer earth and human destruction of our city. I remember the day the levees broke. Red eyed and fixated on denial, the fear began to set in.
The days after the levees broke, it was hard to concentrate and comprehend what had happened. The parade of interviews began to fill each channel’s air. The poltergeist like imagery filled the TV screen of what was happening back home, all the while each person reminisced about their fondest Nola moments. Tears were my closest bedfellow.
The, what seemed to be an endless stream of tears that dripped off my chin were for the city that had been destroyed, but also for the city that I may never get the chance to experience ever again. Person after person faced the camera and talked about the things they loved about the city. They spoke gregariously and lovingly about so many places and thing that I frankly had never visited, experienced, or even knew existed. I was overwhelmed by emotion, felt truly ashamed that I had been doing it all wrong, and that I may never experience the city in the way I should have been all along.
I have spent the better part of the last decade playing catch up and doing my best to become the New Orleanian I feared I would never become. Through iHeartnola.com, I continue to engulf myself in the magic of our city, meet folks I would have never met, and experience life 24 hours at a time.
It’s been a bittersweet road here today, one decade later. Now more than ever, I’m passionately driven to tell the story of New Orleans as we move forward. I’m so very very fortunate to do what I do here, and I want to make sure we remember the lives that were lost during and after the storm. As my memories pre-Katrina begin to fade over time, they are eagerly replaced by ones made up of post-Katrina experiences. It’s been a struggle to sit down and map out my feelings and emotions leading up to today. I couldn’t feel any more pride in being a New Orleanian. Below is one of my favorite videos from this past week. I’ll be signing off for a bit, at least till Monday morning to reflect and let it all sink in.