Sometime a few months ago this slipped past me: I’ve now spent a quarter of my life in the city of New Orleans, a quarter of my life working at the University. And it dawned on me that my experience of this city is very much bound up with my employment at this school. I’ve lived in three different houses and an apartment, in three different districts; Xy has taught at six different schools (soon to be seven); we’ve seen friends come and go, moved in various circles, taken care of nigh on a dozen cats, and brought forth progeny of our own — but the one constant has been working here. I recently joked that I’ve been in this same office over three decades. Silly but true: I started here in ’99, worked through the Aughts, and now it’s the Teens. Unfortunately I don’t think I’ve thoroughly cleaned my office once over all this time. But all kidding aside, this has been a source of great stability in my life, and I am very glad to be here. I can’t imagine how different New Orleans might seem if my job situation was different.
I also missed my annual observance of my start date on the first of June, marking eleven years here at the University. Looking back in the archives I found this remark from 2004:
I’m trying to imagine where I’ll be five years from now. I’ll be 42. Bush will no longer be president. Other than that, little is certain. I imagine myself still living in New Orleans, still working at the University, still hanging with Xy, still producing ROX.
When you put it that way, life just doesn’t sound very exciting. But there are bound to be plenty of surprises too.
Granted, I really should have cited this last year when I was 42. But it’s not too late to observe that, indeed, there have been a few surprises along the way. Most notable among them was the failure in 2005 of the floodwalls on the outfall canals that drain water out of the city, allowing the waters of Lake Pontchartrain to flood my neighborhood and my home and a few hundred thousand others as well. We commonly refer to this phenomenon as “Katrina,” but that’s a sort of misleading shorthand.
I was going to mention my daughter as well, but she is not a “surprise,” technically. She was planned. But she is full of surprises. And I did not anticipate her when imagining my future six years ago.
PS: As an added bonus, here’s a picture I took of myself eleven years ago at my office.
This was taken on July 15, 1999, to be precise. I think this may be the first picture I ever took with a digital camera. It was an Apple QuickTake 200. I wonder whatever happened to it?