Saturday, September 23, 2006

Happy Day

In 1969 or 1970, I remember sitting on my front porch on Woodford in Lakewood Ohio, on September 23. I watched the leaves start to fall, felt the brisk air, heard my family inside preparing for an event, and thought- I am happy.
I have remembered that day all these years because it was the first time I remember expressing that idea in my head, (and realizing that happiness was within my reach) and because the 23rd of September is my birthday.
I am not telling my readers this so that in the next few weeks I can receive congrats and free drinks- I am someone who tells very few people about the day, because I think it is my day, to celebrate in my way, rather than expect others to find money to spend on something I don't really need anyway.
I am sharing this because it is my day of reflection every year, and it seems to me that this year I have much more to reflect on than almost any other. I am now 42 years old, and feel better about myself and my life choices than I have in many years. I am able to look back on events I have been changed by and see all the positive aspects of those events and changes, and very few of the negative ones.
Why is this ability here now?
I believe it is because of August 29 2005, and the humanity that was shown to me afterwards. Some of what is in my personal kaleidoscope: I left town with 4 other friends last August and stayed in Memphis for a few days with them. We were able to go thru the horror together, ask favors of each other and to become better friends because of it. I went to my sister Angel's after leaving them, and was able to just drive up there and know she had room for me and would expect me. She and my nephew Conner were incredible for the 2 months I stayed. Offers poured in from friends everywhere to stay with them, including a old high school friend I had lost touch with. Two of my friends, Kristin and Jennifer- who go way back with me- were again there for me while I was back in Ohio. I came back to many offers of housing, I took up 2 offers from friends, my boss and our then market manager at the markets. I could not have made it without their help in those first few months. My neighbors offered me space to put a trailer; I would have had to leave my neighborhood while my landlady remodeled our apartments without that offer. Friends walk my bayou dog, Maddie, when I am out of town for work, so she can be comfortable in her area and not have to leave it. People offered me free clothes, shoes, dinners, anything else they had. I am throwing my second Dark and Stormy cocktail party on a concrete patio in a still quiet section of MidCity, and I know 7-15 people will show up to have a good time and relax without too much effort being made by me or others.
Many friends who had to exile themselves have kept in touch with warm words of encouragement and news, while others come back to visit or to try to live here again.We laugh and cry when we need to, and no one thinks any badly of us for having those emotions living so close to the surface. We are in touch with our connections to our family, friends and neighbors and new friends and we are doing better than many other people in this country because of that.
I am happy to be 42, in New Orleans and surrounded by so many kooky, creative, determined oddballs who I call my community near and far.

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