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An Open Letter to the Citizens of Lafayette

Please, don’t hate us.

You see, for nearly seven weeks, we New Orleanians have been dealing with issues of betrayal. At first we felt betrayed by the feds and the governor and our hometown officials. Now, as we begin moving home, we feel betrayed again, only this time the hurt is much deeper, much closer to our hearts, because it’s being caused by our friends and neighbors who have chosen to move on.

Sure, we understand that many people lost everything. We understand that many people weren’t having such a great time before the storm and should’ve left long ago. We proclaim loudly and at every opportunity, “I don’t blame anyone who wants to relocate.” But the fact of the matter is that New Orleans, like any city, is its people, and when people abandon a city, those left behind feel betrayed somehow. It’s made even worse in New Orleans, a city that doesn’t ask for fidelity, but lures you into it anyway.

Today, however, we find ourselves on the other end of the stick. Over the past weeks, you’ve all been overwhelmingly kind. You’ve opened your doors, shared your roads, and although our accents aren’t quite right, you’ve made us feel completely at home. Today, as many of us pack up and move back to our deeply scarred, beloved city, we suddenly feel as if we’re the ones who are doing the betraying. We’re leaving you, our hosts, after we’ve spent weeks getting to know you. Most of us knew the relationship would be temporary, but we’re still sorry to have to break it off.

So please, don’t hate us for abandoning ship. We can’t help ourselves. Besides, we’ll just be a few miles down the road. We’ll write and visit often, I promise. We’ll always think of Lafayette like we think of our favorite aunt: we don’t get to see her everyday, but when we do, she makes us feel like we’re family. Like we’re home.

Thank you. For everything.

Sincerely,

Richard

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