I have a running argument/joke with a friend, TheJohnLH (although he’ll always be KingAssClown to me) regarding where I’m from. I always say New Orleans and then if someone asks for a neighborhood, I tell them. EXCEPT, my neighborhood is actually in Jefferson Parish…adjacent to Orleans Parish (and the city of New Orleans). The house where I grew up is less than 3 miles to the parish line.
KingAssClown grew up in Algiers which is within city limits but resides on the other side of the Mississippi river so I tell him that the Westbank doesn’t count.
I’ve learned recently that I’m an anomaly as a burbs kid who claims the city. A high school friend never says he’s from NOLA but from its suburbs…a suburb about 4 miles further up river from my parents.
So I’ve been contemplating what makes me a city girl in my own mind (well partially at least), I think it’s that my parents took us everywhere. We went to the big parks inside the city (Audubon and City); we went to museums, to the zoo, to festivals, to the French Quarter, to carnival parades (everywhere that there was one, including St. Bernard). My parents would take us to whatever restaurants we could afford and that my Dad wanted to try whether they were in the deep suburbs, the lakefront, or wherever.
So I didn’t grow up like many suburban kids, hearing of the evils of the city, especially since many family members still resided in a variety of neighborhoods (Uptown, Carrolton, Gentilly).
When I was a preteen, I figured out how to get to the places I wanted to be on the bus and the streetcar. Then I was the navigator for the friends with cars. I knew how to get to all the places teenagers in NOLA want to go (to the parades, to the French Quarter…)
So despite growing up on a suburban farm (thanks to my parents’ enormous yard and my Dad’s penchant for livestock), I do think of myself as a city girl. But not a native uptowner, that’s E’s place.