Most days, I find it impossible to contemplate leaving New Orleans ever again.
I spent a decade in the Midwest, where every winter, my head would sweat under my wool hat and then my sweaty hair would freeze and my ears felt like if you touched them they might snap off. Where you couldn’t get a Bloody Mary at breakfast and they looked at you all judgey if you even tried. Where I told what I thought were funny stories about my dysfunctional family only to be met with blank stares and basically every time I opened my mouth I was saying or doing something that turned out to be inappropriate.
When I moved back home in 2008, I made immediate friends. We sat in the sunshine drinking iced coffee in January. We decided Bloody Marys counted as a serving of vegetables. We all overshared and talked too much and laughed too loud and gradually became unfit to live anywhere else.
But man … lately, it’s starting to sound almost tempting.
On Saturday, after driving over rapidly flooding streets, I came home to a $450 Entergy bill (we do level billing, but this was still a drastic increase) and a camera ticket (for going 23 miles per hour at 4:41 p.m. in a school zone that isn’t anywhere near a school) (and which I will happily pay as soon as the city reimburses me for the two flat tires I’ve gotten in the past three months from hitting potholes).
To distract myself, I decided to make some lunch, but first I needed to clean up the kitchen, which meant taking out the trash and recycling.
But the recycling wasn’t picked up last week, so my bin was full. Undaunted, I decided to use the back-up bin I bought at Home Depot after the people staying at the Airbnb next door accidentally took our bin and the city refused to replace it.
But the back-up bin was full of construction debris from our other neighbors’ belated Hurricane Ida repairs.
So I dumped out all of that trash and went to put it in the trash can, except that our trash can was full because we only get one pickup a week now even though we’re still paying for two.
At that point, I went inside and started casually talking to my husband about how frustrating it was, only to start yelling as I described the situation: “I WANT TO MOVE!!!”
I think I surprised myself as much as anyone.
I don’t know if it’s the crime, the 2.5-hour response rate by NOPD, the charter school chaos, the lack of basic services, the expense, the crumbling infrastructure … but I do know that I’m getting close to my limit.
My husband calmed me down. Then I called my friends and they came over and we drank wine and bitched about the city and I felt better. I don’t want to leave. I don’t want to go back to Missouri, where they put ranch dressing and cream of mushroom soup in everything and one time I ordered a glass of red wine at a restaurant and the server asked me if I wanted it with or without Sprite.
But does it really have to be this hard? I’m unfit to live anywhere else, yeah, but lately, I feel like this city is unfit to have me, too.