Louisiana Love Affair
I know this place is a mess. I've grown up here. There's nothing, really, that anyone can tell me about my home state that would come as a surprise at this point. I've lived in just about every corner - from Natchitoches to Slidell, between Lake Charles and Alexandria, and now currently in Lafayette. I've been to a thousand tiny towns in between. I've walked the French Quarter in the wee hours, watched the Christmas Festival lights, fed alligators and danced the zydeco. I've seen the Courir and caught beads at Endymion. Not much you can tell me about the history, or the people, or the politics.

I know about the racism, the poverty, the anguish of the poor who spend their whole lives watching what seems to be a truer life pass them by. I know about the politicians who seem to think it is a competition sport to rob and rape as much of this beautiful land and its people as possible in the shortest period of time. I know about the lack of education and health care that keeps us at the bottom of every good ranking, and at the top of every bad one. I am a veteran of tiny schools with no funding, welfare lines and the Katrina disaster. And yet. And yet.

There is magic in this place. There are spirits in the air all around us - of the dead, and sometimes the living, who call in the wind, help us to remember, and give a crackle to the atmosphere at dusk. There is something, something, that draws people here from every nation on the globe - not just as individuals, mind you, but entire communities. You can feel it in your heart when you breathe the air, or watch the sunset, or listen to the buzz of the crickets in the evening. It is magic from another time, magic that the modern world has forgotten, magic that hangs over this land like a mist. It gives us strength, and power, and a will to continue. It gives us art overflowing like a bounty, painting and literature and music and food. It gives us our character, and our lifeblood.

Maybe it is the fact that even in our poverty and problems, we always find a way to be happy, to celebrate and to live life with every ounce of energy we have. Maybe it is the fact that this place has a history bathed in equal parts blood and joy. Maybe it is the Mississippi River, or the hurricanes, or the mysteries of the swamps. Whatever its origins, our magic is as real as a heartbeat. It's why people love to travel here from everywhere to see and hear and taste for themselves.

Why am I writing this out of the blue? Today I was driving along, moving from the city out into the surrounding countryside, and like a soft blanket it enveloped me and held me in its embrace. I looked around, even from the confines of my car, with my cellphone buzzing and the ipod blasting, and that magic penetrated my body straight through to my heart. Even though I have lived here my entire life, even though there is surely nothing new under the sun for me in the state of Louisiana, there, like a cool wave, it was. And so I came home, and wrote a love song.

20 March 2007

1 Comment:

Lee said...

Hi, there. It's Lee Harville. Nice blog. I was bored at work today and Googled you. Would love to catch up with you some 13 years later. Makes me feel old. ;)

Really nice photos. Best of luck with the book. I went down that road and papered several walls with rejection letters. However, you have traveled far longer with your story than I had with mine.

If you want, you can e-mail me at this account or at dlharville@aol.com. I rarely if ever check g-mail.

 
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