Seven Stages of Grief
This is my last week as a resident of the Bywater and I have such mixed emotions, but in the end, I've made my peace with it. After all, there's other great neighborhoods in New Orleans and perhaps it's time for a change. I think what's been hardest for me is that this neighborhood has been home for seven years. It's what I'm used to, it's been my sanctuary, and I've made so many friends here. But one of the things that I've learned in life is that attachment is what causes grief, and it's very limiting. If you open yourself up to new possibilities and are open to change, or going with the flow, things will probably turn out for the better. I've been so attached to the Bywater that I was limiting myself and causing myself unnecessary grief. My husband and I started to expand our search for a new place, looking into the Treme and St. Roch neighborhoods, but then ultimately looked at a house in Bayou St. John. We were amazed. The kitchen was gorgeous (very important to me). It was huge and had a yard and a garage – things that are unheard of in the Bywater unless you have one of those pretty penny properties. For the same amount of money, we could have all these other things a few neighborhoods over. My stepkids could have their own rooms. My husband could have a man-cave (or whatever dudes call it). I could have an office to myself and not have to share a room with my stepkid's bunk-beds. And did I mention a yard? A yard!
We opened ourselves up to change and possibility. I can honestly say that I'm excited and happy about moving to Bayou St. John. But it was a tough time getting there. I found myself actually going through the seven stages of grief over losing my neighborhood, but I ultimately had to ask myself, "why am I so hell-bent on staying here?" A lot of our friends have moved away and I work so much that I don't exactly partake in what Bywater has to offer anymore, like the bars and coffee shops. What was important to me seven years ago, when I moved here, is no longer important to me. I've grown out of needing a corner pub, although I'm sure there will be new places to explore in our new 'hood.
Here is my journey over the past few months, of grief and finally, acceptance.
Shock or disbelief – A few months ago, my husband told me that our landlord called. They were selling our house. At first I thought he was messing with me, as he likes to do that. I never know what to actually believe with him sometimes, which is why I stopped watching most movies with him. I'd always ask if the potential movie he put on was a slasher flick or really creepy or really depressing, and he'd always say "of course not, it's funny, I swear", and then the movie would end up being all three things. I'm still not over having to watch Stephen King's "The Mist." Nope, I don't believe everything he tells me anymore.
Denial – When I finally realized my husband wasn't kidding, I shrugged and went on like he'd never said anything. In the back of my mind I was thinking, hell they might sell our house, but perhaps new owners would still want tenants. I couldn't think about it. No way I was moving away. No way. I hate moving.
Anger – I was angry at myself for not meeting a previous life goal of making mad money by the age of 30. Why didn't I just have $300,000 chilling in the bank so I could buy the house? I blamed myself. I should have been more successful. I also directed anger at the process of gentrification, at the rich people buying up all the property, at Airbnb. I'd roll my eyes at tourists with big cameras and Mardi Gras beads around their necks and wonder what the hell they were doing in the Bywater. Go back to the French Quarter where you belong. It was all very ugly. Thankfully, I'm over that now.
Bargaining – I tried to think of any possible way to stay here. We could endure a smaller place, after all it's just me for 2 weeks out of the month, as my husband works out of town on the river. We don't really need that much space. Oh, who was I kidding, my husband needed a whole closet just for his shoes. I looked at a laughably small apartment in our price-range. Nope. We would have had to pay an outrageous amount of money in rent for a place to be what we needed. That's ridiculous. I moved past bargaining pretty fast.
Guilt – I felt guilty for working so much. For not taking advantage of all the cool stuff in my neighborhood over the past year. I felt like I squandered or missed out on a lot of happenings. Why should I stay here? I'm a very bad resident these days.
Depression – Mainly, I'm sad that an era is done and gone, but in reality it's been gone for over a year now. So many friends have moved away and it's just not the same anymore. Such is life. I'm also depressed that I have to move. I hate moving. I HATE moving. The idea of packing up my house makes me exhausted and depressed. And when in the hell am I going to have the time to do this? And do it right? I just felt like throwing up my hands and taking a nap. Naps are the go-to tool for depression.
Acceptance & hope – I'm ready. Ready to say good-bye. It was amazing while it lasted, but sorry Bywater, we have to break up. Hello, new love, Bayou St. John. May we have many many years of happiness together.