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Sep 22, 201710:36 AM
Joie d'Eve

Living, loving, laughing, and learning in the new New Orleans

Troubled Waters

I love this city, but there are times when I wonder why it has to be so hard to live here.

Thursday morning. 6:30. I wake up and immediately check to see if the boil order has been lifted. I know it hasn’t been – I’ve been though more than enough boil orders by now to know the drill and the timeline – but I check anyway out of blind, stupid hope.

I take a bath but skip washing my hair because I don’t want potentially contaminated water anywhere near my face. I wash my face and brush my teeth with bottled water.

I get dressed and get my kids up and urge them through their morning ablutions with bottled water.

We leave the house at 7:30 to drive a half-hour to their private school. I drop them off and drive another 45 minutes back to work. I take a longer route to avoid the five speed cameras along the most convenient roads because the cameras always work but the flashers never do, and I don’t have the money in my budget to deal with camera tickets.

At the office, I make coffee with bottled water and pour it into a cup I brought from home, where I have a dishwasher with a sanitize cycle.

I got paid today, so I put money aside for our mortgage payment, which is about 40 percent of our annual income and which is about 30 percent insurance.

I check the neighborhood website and see that there was a carjacking a few blocks away.

And honestly, sometimes I wonder. I wonder what it would be like if I still lived in Missouri, as so many of my friends do.

In the 10 years I lived in Missouri, we didn’t have a single boil order – let alone 12 in seven years.

When you added in taxes and insurance on our three-bedroom house with a working fireplace and a huge backyard, we paid about $550 a month.

The neighborhood wasn’t the best; crime was still drastically lower in that neighborhood than in even the best neighborhoods here.

My kids would have gone to the good public school just a few blocks away, and no one would have had to sleep out on the sidewalk to get them in; they wouldn’t have to take entrance tests and complete spreadsheets on their extracurricular activities just to get into kindergarten.

I love it here. It’s home. But things that were easy enough to excuse or overlook when New Orleans was charmingly decrepit but affordable are harder to swallow as New Orleans remains both charming and decrepit and yet the cost of living skyrockets.

And believe me, I know I’m extraordinarily privileged, even though we struggle. My husband and I have two incomes. We own a home. We are able to send our kids to a good school. We can afford groceries and even the $240 monthly water bill that seems outrageous when the Sewerage & Water Board can neither drain our water nor keep it reliably safe to drink.

But if it’s this hard and frustrating for us, I know it has to be harder and more frustrating by an enormous factor for families without our advantages.

For me, it’s not a question of whether New Orleans is worth it. This is where I grew up and where I live. I’m not romanticizing Mardi Gras or Jazz Fest or casual alcoholism or second-lines; I’m not a transplant. I’m not making some kind of pro-con list in my head. I would never survive another winter in the Midwest, and I’m generally and passionately disinclined to ever even think about moving house ever ever again.

Whether it’s worth it is moot. I’m not going anywhere.

I just want – for me and for everyone else who loves it here – things to be more functional, more affordable, or (can you even imagine?!) both.

I have a bunch of complaints, but at the end of the day, I have no answers.

At least the water’s OK again. For now.

 

 

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Joie d'Eve

Living, loving, laughing, and learning in the new New Orleans

about

        Eve is further proof, if any is needed, that New Orleans girls can never escape the city. After living here since the age of 3 and graduating from Ben Franklin High School, Eve moved to Columbia, Mo., where she received bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the Missouri School of Journalism and became truly, unhealthily obsessed with grammar.She had originally intended to strike out to New York City and work in the cutthroat magazine industry there, but after Katrina, Eve felt a strong pull to return home, to her roots, her family, her waterlogged and struggling city – and a much more forgiving work atmosphere that would allow her to skip a routine of everyday makeup and size 0 designer label business suits and enjoy the occasional cocktail or three with an absurdly fattening lunch. She moved back home in January 2008 and lives in Mid-City with her two daughters, Ruby and Georgia; her stepson, Elliot; and her husband, Robert Peyton.Eve blogs about the joys and struggles of living in post-Katrina New Orleans, the unique problems and delights of raising a child in such a diverse and challenging city – including her experiences with the public education system – and her always entertaining and extremely colorful family.Eve has won numerous writing awards, including the Pirates Alley Faulkner Society Gold Medal, the Society of Professional Journalists Mark of Excellence award for column-writing and Press Club of New Orleans awards for her Editor’s Note in New Orleans Homes & Lifestyles and for this blog, most recently winning the award for "Best Feature Affiliated Blog."She welcomes comments, advice, empty flattery, recipes, drink invitations and – most especially – grammatical or linguistic debates.

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