I’ve had a hard time posting anything about the recent devastation in New Orleans. The reasons are complicated. I have friends down there. I have been there. I loved and lost someone right after I returned from there.

In addition, everyone else is blogging it, and it seems, with more relevance. What can a land-locked Utah girl know about such a tragedy? But I was called to task yesterday by a writer, who, although right in some ways, didn’t understand that:

1. I was searching for my pictures of New Orleans 15 years ago, so I could post them. It’s been a long time and it took me a while to find them.

2. It brought back memories of my Neil, who died shortly after we returned from New Orleans (long story). Neil was the inspiration for the character Frank in WIVES AND SISTERS, and all around good guy who convinced a confused young woman that she DID deserve a good man to love her. Then two weeks later he died.

3. I have been devastated by thoughts of this natural disaster, over which I have SO little control. Like the Tsunami in Asia this past Christmas, the suffering and loss of life is overwhelming. However, this one is even closer. This is a place I have been. I have friends who still live in this region. And a co-worker of mine and good friend spent days wondering if her grandfather and aunts were alive. The good news is they are. The bad news is, they lost their homes.

We’ve started a drive called Quarters for Katrina to try and help Renee’s family rebuild their homes, since they had no flood insurance. All in all, I have been as affected by this tragedy as much as anyone not directly in Katrina’s path. But every time I tried to post, it simply seemed trite, or ill-informed, or a little callous. But not because I didn’t care.

The best place to donate, in my opinion, is the Red Cross. So here is the obligatory link. Not because I don’t want to do it, but because I know you’ve seen the link many other places. But they really do need your help.

And now, I offer up some brief glances at New Orleans, albeit old ones. It’s been fifteen years since these were taken. Things undoubtedly were different then what you will see here. But now, things are irretrievably lost. It will rise again, I have no doubt. But it will never be the same.

So here’s my look back at New Orleans, and a time that, for me, was both wonderful, magical, and filled with grief.

Here I am with friends on Bourbon Street. I’m the third from the left in the pink shirt.

A live jazz band plays on Bourbon Street in front of Pat O’Brien’s Bar.

The banks of the Mississippi from a cruise ship.

An open air cafe in New Orleans.

The French Market, an open-air market in New Orleans.

A sax player in front of a famous cafe, where they serve cafe au lait and beignets. I can’t remember the name….

Jackson Square in New Orleans.

A riverboat on the Mississippi.

A sax player on the banks of the Mississippi.

A statue in front of Jackson Square, and my friend Vicky.

The Mississipi River from the air, as we left New Orleans.

The group of friends I went to New Orleans with. Neil, who died shortly after we returned to Utah, is the one in the back, very tan, very suave, very kind.


About Natalie R. Collins

Natalie has more than 30 years writing, editing, proofreading and design experience. She has written 20 books (and counting), has worked for the Sundance Film Festival, and as an investigative journalist, editor, and proofreader. She embraces her gypsy-heart and is following her new free-thinking journey through life. Follow her as she starts over and learns a bunch of life's lessons--some the hard way.
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