New Orleans to Alexandria, Louisiana (Written By AmbassadorNique)

What is this place? The beautiful, the ugly, the gift, the curse

Since birth Id heard tales about Alexandria. This is where my parents called home. Some memories happy and others not so much..

We were told to be thankful that we did not have to grow up in poverty and were fortunate to live the life we lived. Nevertheless every Saturday regardless how they feel about each other both my parents route for the LSU Tigers and the New Orleans Saints on Sunday’s. Depending on the week you may even smell delicious gumbo coming from the kitchen.

Although My fathers father died When I was just 2 and a half, I’d always known he was very smart and I found out sometime last winter he even attended college in Arkansas where he was raised.

Fast forward years later I am now 27 and a half and have made quite a few
More trips down south to Louisiana

Last year I was able to visit my uncle in Angola for the first time ever, and my brother hosted this thanksgiving in New Orleans.

Just 2 weeks later my lovely girlfriend and I would come back to New Orleans to celebrate her birthday for an entire week.

While we did everything from eat binese and po boys to go on a swamp tour, have lunch with a friend whom we randomly ran into on the flight down, to the French quarters market, burbon street, and the river walk; our 3 hours each way road trip to Alexandria louisiana was by far my favorite part of the trip.

We’d stop in opololusus to buy boudan while discussing life and our future.

The trips purpose was to see my grandmother and interview her about her life, our family, the origins of her moral compass and values and whatever else she’d share

I also wanted to show Diana where my family had started and properly introduce granny to the young woman I love dearly.

We’d get to Alexandria around 1 and Id first meet my fathers oldest sister aunt glen standing in the door way. I’d have to go next door to meet granny at the church where she was assisting them in wrapping up a fundraiser where they’d been selling gumbo all morning. I’d notice folks under what my father refers to as “the tree”.

We’d meet my grandmother in the middle of the crossings of 17th and Reed. She’d point out that this was the same block that she’d been born and raised. She told us stories of how my grandfather moved back with her after she had gotten sick and they’d raise their kids here. She’d point out the four churches in a one block radius, abandon houses and some history of the neighborhood.

Diana and I would later talk to my uncle and look through pictures my grandmother had gotten out for us. I’d also have the opportunity to interview her on camera and ask her about her childhood and upbringing.

On our way back to New Orleans that night I began to think about the importance of community. No matter how much money you have or where you live, our participation in our community can be vital to our survival. My grandmother stays in Alexandria because she feels important to that community.

I am thankful to have her and I am thankful for her acceptance of Diana and our relationship. Love is love.

AmbassadorNique

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New Orleans Day Two

Day two of my trip to New Orleans would be fun filled. We’d visit a catholic church, the French Market, eat delicious cheese cake and visit the zoo!

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The market was fun. The day was beautiful and I was able to by the exact Saints beanie I was searching for. 

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My aunt told me that she wouldn’t mess with the swamp tour, but she did in fact take me to the zoo where we found many children and very few gators.

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This was the only gator I saw.. Not sure what’s going on with his mouth.

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Who Dat?!

All in all my trip to New Orleans was great. I wish it was longer, but my aunt and I managed to squeeze ALOT into two days. She showed me a great time and I can’t wait to come back for a visit and actually go on the swamp tour. Definitely have to stay longer next time, come during a Saints game, check out a jazz club and just have more time to roam in the city.

New Orleans never fails on showing southern hospitality. It will forever be home and one of my favorite cities. Until next time.

AmbassadorNique 

New Orleans – Explained… (Where are you from?)

Where are you from? Are you from Seattle?

These questions have always been challenging for me to answer. Depending on the circumstances and how much time I have to explain myself the answer may vary. Well, technically yes at this point I’ve spent most of my life in the Pacific Northwest and now reside in South Seattle (BEACON!). So, yes… for all practical purposes I can say I am from Seattle.

Its interesting the way we ask the “where are you from” questions to certain groups of people expecting different answers. For those who can trace their roots back to a specific place (city or country) outside of the United States, “Where are you from?” demands a completely different answer. While most Asian/Pacific Islanders and Latino’s are expected to hold a pride to what is sometimes foreign lands, in America most African American’s trace their roots to the South of the United States while those of European ancestry aren’t really expected to know, care or understand. (Sidenote: My theory about this is people trace back to where they feel like their family had the most clout… I digress). In short, like most African Americans I trace my roots back to Louisiana and Arkansas because well.. We have no family records or pictures from any of the 52 countries in Africa. 

Another complication is the fact that I was born in the beautiful city of Tokyo, Japan. Unfortunately since my skin is dark this answer to the question “where are you from?” has never been acceptable. How’d this happen? Well my father was in the US Military. Although my parents didn’t exactly grow up in New Orleans is the closest metropolitan city, and its where the football team is! I still have aunts uncles grandparents and cousins all over Louisiana. My siblings would attend universities in New Orleans and we would take family road trips and vacations back “home” growing up. So even though I’ve never “lived” in New Orleans, just as I call Tokyo and Seattle.. New Orleans is home… 

**Tangent** I am a die hard New Orleans Saints fan. 0 and 16 or 13 and 3, I have one team and one team only year in and year out. Being that I’ve been in Seattle so long I never root against the Seahawks, but I don’t call myself a fan. **Done**

After moving from Japan my family moved to Houston, Texas. I was very young and don’t remember much, but I do know that it wasn’t the safest place in America at the time of our arrival. We would live there for less than a year and soon after my siblings and I would move to Louisiana with my grandparents before heading to the Northwest at age 6 in 1993. My father and uncle would travel from Louisiana to Washington with my siblings and I. My Uncle would only stay a few months and I have faint memories of us listening to music together and doing crazy things like eating Ketchup sandwiches.

As life would have it, I wouldn’t see my uncle again after ‘93. We did however keep in touch and he later became one of my greatest inspirations. As life demands more of our time and as I got older we still found time to catch up and keep each other informed, and I do my best to keep him updated on my life changes and share my photo’s with him.

On October 18, 2013 I would take a red eye flight from the Seattle/Tacoma International Airport to Louis Armstrong International (New Orleans, Louisiana). 

**To Be Continued**

Domonique Meeks
AmbassadorNique Productions