I’ve written a weekly blog now for more than seven years, which is a nice way to keep track of one’s life, but one thing that is sort of depressing/humbling is the extent to which I’ve started to feel like I’m part of an old married couple – New Orleans and I are just telling each other the same old stories again and again: Mardi Gras, violence, Jazz Fest, Katrina, hurricane season, the Saints, good friends, alcohol, laissez les bon temps rouler, etc.

I started to write about the weather, about how it’s rained so much lately but that I so keenly feel both gratitude and survivors’ guilt  that we were spared the devastation that was wreaked on other parts of the state, about how “Louisiana 1927” is still as relevant today as ever. I started to write about the threat of Invest 99L churning out there in the water and the maddening variation of the “spaghetti models” that are predictive of nothing except heightened anxiety among Gulf Coast residents. I started to recall my evacuations during hurricanes Gustav and Isaac. I started to remember how relieved and delighted I was to come home after both of those evacuations, how much I adore this city even though it is also an eternal source of frustration.

And then I realized I’d done all of that already – repeatedly, extensively.

I wrote this almost exactly four years ago. 

Then, two weeks later, I wrote this

It seems silly to tell the same story. We’ve heard it before, so many times.

But if New Orleans and I are an old married couple, then I think it’s only fitting that we renew our vows. Here are mine:

“New Orleans, I love you. You’re not perfect, but neither am I, and I’m definitely not going anywhere. I’ve lived here long enough to know that the constant rain and occasional hurricane scare in August is balanced out by those sunny days in January where I drink an iced coffee in a tank top. I promise to defend you to ignorant people who question why we live here. I promise not to get sick of red beans every Monday. I will always pull for the Saints, even when they’re having a losing season – just like I have every year for my entire life. I will own no fewer than five ‘inside-jokey’ T-shirts declaring my love for you and/or your various components. I might leave town for Mardi Gras, but I will never complain about listening to marching bands practicing in the weeks leading up to it. I’ll never lose my sense of wonder for a good second-line. I’ll stay committed to my love of good food and the desire to share it with others everywhere I go. New Orleans, I know you are flawed – bad streets, frequent boil orders, corrupt politicians, senseless violence, flying roaches and swarming termites and biting mosquitoes – but I will try to either accept these things or work toward constructive change rather than bitterly complaining. I’m going to raise my kids to love and honor you, to work to make you better while not changing anything that makes you special. They already love to dance and eat and sing and laugh; they know to stomp on doubloons and always tip street musicians and never wear black to eat beignets. They’re starting to understand the transformative power of the jazz funeral, and my older daughter can peel her own crawfish and cheer someone on during a keg-stand, simultaneously. When I first lived here, it wasn’t a choice – I was a child, and I lived here because my parents did. But living here is more meaningful for me now because I went away and then consciously chose to come back – it is a decision I celebrate every day in both big and small ways. I have stayed here – and will continue to stay here – for a reason that is both very simple and unfathomably complex: This is home.”

What would you put in your NOLA wedding vows?