by Molly Jo Realy @MollyJoRealy
There. I said it.
I’ve known for a few months this would be my one word for 2018. But before y’all think I’ve gone crazy [too late!], let me explain the beauty of this word and why it means so much to me.
NOLA, my rough-draft novel, is set in post-Katrina New Orleans. I was fortunate to speak with several survivors and I also researched a lot about hurricanes and their aftermath. It is as much a part of New Orleans, and my novel, as Cafe du Monde and the Rougarou.
It’s no secret the last few years have been, shall we say, chaotic. Unfriendly. Tumultuous. I was in my own hurricane emotionally, spiritually, and sometimes physically.
I didn’t always know which end was up. Life was scattered and shattered all around me. It was dark, dangerous, stormy and scary.
But it was also beautiful. The rains washed the structures of my life, revealing the foundations. Yes, some things were carried away that I wish hadn’t been. Debris needed to be cleaned up. In the remnants, in the aftermath, came a focus. A desire. The ability to start over with what was left.
What I’ve learned from hurricane survivors is they are more than survivors. They are thrivers. Whether they are transplanted to start a new life elsewhere, or rebuild where they are, they do so with fervor and determination.
They also come together as a community. The bond of survivorship compels them to love on and care for one another in ways “outsiders” don’t quite grasp. It’s an in-crowd issue that not everyone is privy to understanding. A weather-born kinship that creates a family out of strangers.
There’s a strength that comes on the other side of the hurricane. An empowerment that says, “You didn’t end me.” I’m not saying everything is perfect, or the way it was. I’m not saying it doesn’t leave its scars on the landscape.
It’s a change, to be sure. And a strong one, at that.
A hurricane can reveal design flaws and crumble what we once put our trust in. It shifts focus to a new normal.
This year, I’m embracing the other side of my hurricane through the strength, the determination, the fellowship, and the staying power it’s revealed to be the four corners of my foundation.
It’s a wild ride, to be sure. But one I wouldn’t trade for the world.
What’s your word for the year?
With a strong grip and water shoes,
Happy New Year.
And Frankly, My Dear . . . : That’s all she wrote.