NOLA 2013

What a long, strange week it’s been

Written April 20th, 2013

We had a great week here in New Orleans, when being in New Orleans was what we were thinking about. But much of our time this week was spent thinking about home. The site supervisor at my house, Catherine is from Southboro, so we spent the morning listening to Marathon coverage on NPR – On Point and Here and Now, both shows produced by WBUR on Boston. We were joking around about how strange it was to be in New Orleans. But still listening to our local radio personalities. We turned the radio off though, once the first runners had crossed the finish line. I’m sure it’s exciting to watch the race at any point in person, but there is really only so much that is interesting about a road race when you are listening to it on the radio. Shortly after the explosions occurred, Catherine came in to tell us. Her mother worked not far from the finish line, and she called her to make sure she was okay. Her mother had stayed home that day though, because of the holiday. Beyond that we didn’t know much until we got home.

The local CBS affiliate was streaming a live feed from our Channel 4 at times during the week when there was breaking news. Again, here we hearing from newscasters from home here in New Orleans, but in this case it was much more disturbing. Brian Williams was live in Copley Square. The local news was showing Deval Patrick, and Mayor Menino giving press conferences. For me, the images of the Stata Center at MIT as a crime scene and the news of the death of the campus police officer were particularly hard. Campus police are supposed to be chasing us down off the roofs of the buildings we’d snuck onto, not getting into gun fights with bombers.

It was a hard week to be away. Part of me wanted to be home, to know what was going on. Part of me feels bad because it was a good week to not be there, to be distanced from the non-stop news coverage. We saw it on the news in the morning and in the evening, but in between we were living a different kind of crisis, not the immediate one back home, but the long drawn out one in New Orleans. In true New Orleans style, now that the crisis has passed, there is always a party to found, even in a half built home in half empty neighborhood. Laissez les bons temps rouler, as they say here.

After a week of working, I am usually ready to come home and sleep in my own bed. This time, there is a part of me that is not looking forward to it. Our group bonded so well over our time here, I will miss being with them, but that isn’t the only reason. This time, I will be returning to a city that is not quite the same as when I left. It is always a challenge to emotionally come back from the New Orleans trip. Usually, it is the pain of leaving a city that is not yet healed. This time, it will be the uncertainty of the reality in the city I am returning to.

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