It’s almost as if I’ve been here before.
I’ve been through a disaster, here in New Orleans, before. But this time there is no flood, nor a hurricane. This disaster is affecting my entire world, and everyone else living in it. This disaster — COVID-19 — has an unknown end date, and so does my time back down in New Orleans.
I was born and raised in New Orleans and I call this city my home when I’m not at Cal State Fullerton, studying communications as a fourth-year student. In my childhood, I lived through and experienced one of the worst natural disasters in American history in 2005 – Hurricane Katrina. It changed my life forever because I lost everything. The COVID-19 outbreak is just as life-changing as the hurricane was, but this time I share my grievances with many. I share uncertainty, pain, and loss with the entire world.
Once California was issued a state lockdown, I had to immediately leave my apartment near campus as my family booked me the next flight out of Orange County to New Orleans so I would not struggle alone during this pandemic.
Louisiana, as of today, is one of the hardest hit states in the nation as a result of COVID-19, and the New Orleans area in particular has the worst death rate in the U.S. However, I am sacrificing these risks to be with my family.
Outside my window, I no longer see my college community just across the street. I don’t feel the Orange County ocean breeze, and see friends wearing college gear talking and laughing.
I see my childhood neighborhood. I see neighbors taking long but silent, daily walks because that is all they can do. They wear N95 masks and they are terrified. We all are.
It Did Not Feel Like Home
Today I drove down Bourbon Street and through the French Quarter for the first time since last summer. There were no crowds, no drinks in-hand, and not one person buying beignets from the now closed Café du Monde. It did not feel like home.
While I love my home, and I love being back down in New Orleans, I no longer live in the same world I created for myself after Katrina.
I live in a world where having an unknown future is the new normal. But I have been here before. This time I can relate with the world, and the world can relate with me.