It’s been 5 years since our big move to Central Florida. The first year we lived here, we went home to the New Orleans area 3 times. our second year brought us home 2 or 3 times. Our 3rd year brought me home about 5 times due to my dads illness and eventual passing and my husband went home to move his ailing mother and help sell her home a couple of times. The 4th year we did not go home at all. Instead much of my family came to us for Christmas and that was a huge blessing. In this 5th year, the girls and I went home just recently for my oldest daughters oncology visit and to visit my dads gravesite, as well as enjoy a bit of Mardi Gras with my mom.
For myself, I still miss home dearly. It brings with it an ability to breathe a bit. My husband has some extended family and a brother in Louisiana, but his heritage there is dwindling, which makes me personally sad. His mother is here now with us. The bonds to Louisiana are lessening for him. My family is mostly still in Louisiana. My sister has since moved to Memphis. I still have my brothers and their families, and my mom, in southeast Louisiana. It’s a bit of a nuisance that I still pine for being in the area I consider home. But I do.
When my husband and I moved briefly to Plano, Texas, we knew that we’d move back home eventually. We had no plans for staying. it was a 2.5 year stepping stone for us. We had no children yet and my first was actually born there. We moved back home when she was 8 months old, knowing we wanted to raise our kids around family. It made it a bit easier in Plano, having a cousin and his family there to hang out with and celebrate holidays with. We lived pretty close to them. Those were fun years, but we always knew we’d head home eventually. We missed home very much and even in the short time we lived in the Dallas area, we had family in often and we went home once or twice a year. I’ve been to the JFK museum 5 times. Yes, the one with the grassy knoll, which is more just the hill on the side of the raised interstate.
In moving here, we knew it was an indefinite stay. There were no plans of stepping stones or going home unless we were visiting. We still feel that way but we do see one more move in our lives, and that is to wherever we decide to retire one day. I’m hoping our thoughts about heading closer to home, to more southern territory on the panhandle of Florida, are the same ones God has planned for us. It’s where we always thought we’d land anyway. It’s 5 hours closer to home and 5 hours from our happy place in Disney World. We’d still have access to Florida resident perks. Plus it’s where we honeymooned. Destin is where we’d like to land, if we can afford a condo or townhouse there when the time comes.
What is it about New Orleans? I mean, besides family and friends who I consider family. I do know why that is a big reason breathing is so much easier for me there. I feel I can brush off all of the STUFF we have going on here in Florida. That makes you wonder why I do the STUFF. Well, I see absolutely NO reason to live here without Disney passes. My girls have connected with a wonderful Community Arts group that I’m not sure would be at our availability at home. We have met some good friends, but also have had horrid learning experiences ending in tears. Other that this, I don’t agree with the older snowbirds in that it’s a desirable area to end up in. Sinkholes and bugs. Two of my least favorite things on this earth that I didn’t know about before we moved here. So, when I am home, I feel I can breathe relief that I will not be sucked into the earth unexpectedly, nor will I have to battle the sheer amounts of bugs and roaches that are outside(this being said, we exterminate and I am so appreciative of the chemicals, because it’s rare in the house or yard in passing). I LOVE being outside, but not here in Central Florida. I used to love camping, until I moved here. I’m even thinking of selling our tent and supplies. In Covington, Louisiana, I can be outside and even lay in the grass without fear of a “palmetto bug” in the near vicinity. I grew up outside, rolling down the levee and only fearing ants and ant piles. I now hate the outdoors unless I’m in the well exterminated areas like Disney. In Disney, you won’t get away from roaches in water areas though. Yes, there are bugs in southeast Louisiana, but not the size or amounts here. Why do you think everyone here has screened in porches!?
So, what IS it about New Orleans?
Growing up in River Ridge, along the levee, it felt quite like the running around freedom, within reason, that Tom Sawyer had. There were lots of neighborhood kids to have fun with and get into trouble with. Raising our kids on the northshore, in Covington, while not having quite that much freedom(the kids), our lives were a little utopian bubble. Our life existed around church and homeschooling and in the beginning, heading to Children’s Hospital weekly. We were encircled with Jesus loving people, all striving to live according to His Word. Utopian Bubble. Warm and loving, mostly. No place is perfect, we had our issues, but they were NOTHING to living in a place as diverse as this. We have grown and learned so much.
We lived about 40 minutes to an hour in any direction from family, which was perfect. We would get together for important events like birthdays and holidays, but not be in each others daily lives. Not much more utopian where family is concerned! I saw my mom, dad and sister every week or two. We weren’t too far for even the little stuff, like babysitting each others kids. Living near family is a huge blessing and we had the best of both worlds. Here is my crazy loving momma just a few weeks ago……
My mom lives in Metairie, Louisiana, where my sister used to live and where my husbands family mostly lives. Or used to. Metairie is not my favorite area but it screams “we are home!”. It’s where his momma and daddy lived. My mom , my girls and I were able to walk the 2 mile path at Lafrieniere Park where I used to walk with him in our younger years. Metairie is also where I worked, lived for a while, and went on most dates with my now hubby. We lived in our first apartment post wedding together there too. So, when I am in Metairie, it feels like home because my momma lives there.
Covington is where we lived. I could write twenty posts about Covington. I consider this our HOME. My sweet cottage home where my kids were raised. our first home we had built. Covington is on my Disney name tag. Lots of love for Covington.
Mandeville is where our church is. Right south of Covington. Spent about 3-4 days a week there. Being in the church, on it’s grounds, I can breathe. We have beliefs that are similar, we strived together to learn more about what Jesus wanted from our lives individually and collectively. What a family is Saint Timothy! It’s where I want my ashes(if not in the gulf). It’s the pastors I want to marry my kids. No idea if and how that would happen. My mother even wants her funeral there(she JUST told me this). It’s home.
In Bush, Louisiana, I have some friends who live in a gorgeous raised home on 5 acres. Wrap around porch, pasture with horses and a tire swing complete this country home. The family that lives there is so special to us. There’s not much I enjoy better than on her porch in a comfy chair chatting with my friend about life. Even though our lives are very different, and we live far now, our lives seem to align in strange ways. We both faced handling an elderly parent or grandparent at the same times. We both have similar friend issues at the same time. The only thing that has ironically not aligned, is when we feel we want to hole up and when we are so busy that we want to pull our hair out. So, we pull each other in and out of our circumstances- or try to. Ha!
My 2 brothers live in Franklinton and Prairieville. Both about an hour from Covington. Franklinton may be a bit closer.
Another beloved friend of mine lives in Timbuktu, oh, I mean, Angie, Louisiana. She lives on her own street named after her husbands family. It’s a peaceful place to visit too. My youngest and hers have been friends for a long time and continue their friendship even now.
Other than friends and family, what I love about home is real food, Mardi Gras, southern hospitality, St Charles Avenue, my dad is buried there in a typical crypt, all of the above and so much more.
my girls at New Orleans Hamburger and Seafood on St Charles 2/15
This became more of a NOLA love fest. But it is where I can breathe outside of the home I share with my family and a couple other friends homes here.