I’m writing an essay about my experiences in post-Katrina New Orleans, and I thought I’d give you all a taste of the first few paragraphs. My hidden agenda: perhaps the comments will help motivate and inspire me to keeping on plugging along with the writing.

How can I characterize my love for a place that I only came to know after its destruction? It is a strange kind of attachment, one that comes out of witnessing devastation and, later, sometimes, resilience.

I am not from New Orleans, nor do I have any familial connection to the place or to any place in the southern United States for that matter, but the days I’ve spent in that city have left more of an impact on me than my time spent in any other place. I am compelled to recount my experiences as if to justify or earn my love, as if my guilt about being yet another white Northerner who fell in love with New Orleans too late can be undone with sufficient stories indicating my connection to the city and its surroundings. We’ve been through quite a bit together, though this city never needed me, never even knew me until it was undone by storm and flood and injustice. My love for this place is the other side of the coin of heartbreak, and sometimes the line between the two isn’t so clear.