(The summer is making me very lazy--I just have not been able to focus and write. Sitting in the satellite office, aka Starbucks, hoping a change of scenery will help.)
Do you want to go back to New Orleans? someone asked.
Not yet, said Carl. It's too soon. My goal is move back in a few years, start a business and help rebuild the city, and own a house before I'm 30. My mother tried to do that, but never managed.
San Antonio is too big, he continued. In New Orleans I could walk into any house and find a cousin or friend. The door was always open. It's the only home I'll ever have. He spoke quietly and with the cadence and conviction of a preacher, each sentence a small song. I looked around at a room of held breaths and sad, frozen faces, which he must have noticed as well, because he added: Everything will work out. Katrina was a cleansing. Things were bad in New Orleans, and maybe we needed a fresh start. Katrina taught me that I can do anything--all I need is faith in my ability to stretch and grow.
I felt like I was witnessing the birth of a great leader; I wanted him to finish growing up so he could tell the rest of us how to live. How could he understand, at age 22, what took me a lifetime to learn? Even while surrounded by poverty and violence, he knew that what he did have--family, community, love--was priceless.
(To be continued.)