Historically, New Orleans is known for its diversity, so it shouldn’t be too surprising that each neighborhood in the city comes with its own unique charm.
My uptown neighborhood, the “River Bend” as locals call it, frequently treats me to a number of distinct quirks. From the rumblings of the street car on St. Charles Avenue to the narrow one-way streets that that typically allow my roommates and I toss a Frisbee around in the street, the abnormal geography in New Orleans always seems to create some sort of benefit.
Coming back from a run through Audubon Park the other day, I met some of the neighborhood kids selling lemonade on the corner who insisted I take a glass even though I didn’t have any money. After discussing Les Miles’ coaching and the LSU rankings, I continued on my way home, realizing for the first time that my neighborhood was more than just a collection of flickering oil lanterns and historic shotgun houses.
Because of the great October weather I’ve been opting out of my usual streetcar ride to school and choosing to walk. It really amazes me what I witness everyday just on my short 10 minute stroll to school. I love to see the tourists on the streetcar with their cameras snapping pictures of the historic mansions, or parents dropping their kids off at the nearby elementary school. It all serves as a constant reminder of what a great city I chose to be a part of; a place where families, college students, and tourists peacefully co-exist.
I’m often reminded of my New Orleans community on Loyola’s campus. Lately, the afternoons have been topping out at 75 degrees so it’s extremely common to find all of my friends hanging out on the Danna Student Center porch. Last week, my Images of Women in Art class was actually held outdoors so our class could see first-hand the works (in Loyola’s Sculpture Garden) of the famous Louisiana sculpture artist Lyn Emory up close. New Orleans is a place where community and heritage are held in high-esteem, and to me, Loyola’s students, faculty, and staff whole-heartedly embraces those ideals.
Coming from a close-knit, conservative community in St. Louis, MO, I hardly saw my definition of community ever changing. For me, home would always be St. Louis, but recently I have been growing and evolving just like this city. My sense of home finally began to take shape in the form of New Orleans because my on-campus interactions and even my neighborhood began to redefine my personal community. I finally understand that home is something you can’t control, it’s simply wherever you are happy and comfortable. While I know St. Louis will always be a part of me, it will always be where my family is, it isn’t necessarily home. Now that I’ve established myself as a communal member of Loyola and New Orleans I can only think of one place that I call “Home.”