|Me & Flat Stanley by the river. (flatstanleylouisville.blogspot.com)|
Neighbor 1 from across the street, an able-bodied dude, immediately offered an extra hand with the heavy furniture.
Neighbor 2 from next door, a delightful older woman who has since moved-- we miss her every day, came by later with a cheese pizza and a six-pack of beer in a cooler with ice "in case we didn't have a fridge yet."
By nightfall, Neighbor 3 from three doors down showed up with a fistful of takeout menus, just in case we didn't feel like cooking as we settled in.
The next day, Neighbor 4 from two doors down, came by with a gigantic houseplant.
I had planned on spending the rest of my life in New Orleans, but Katrina and my subsequent job loss made it too hard to stay. I was not happy about leaving-- I was miserable. But the school here in Louisville that recruited me and wined me and dined me and gave me all kinds of reasons to move to this town that I knew NOTHING about, promised me that I'd find a good and welcoming home here.
Honestly, it took a couple of years-- a couple of years and the creation of this blog and the discovery of our local Twitter community-- before I really found a HOME here. But find a home I did. And now I am one of Louisville's most passionate cheerleaders.
But those first few days, when my neighbors drifted over and welcomed us were a good indication of what was to come. Lots of people scoff at the idea of Louisville as Compassionate City, but I am a believer.
This is the city where my neighbors welcomed us in a way that we would normally chalk up to a "Leave it to Beaver"-style fiction. This is the city that, when a tree crushed my house during the Hurricane Ike wind storm, sent even more of my neighbors over to my house to help me clear out the rubble and be safe. This is also the place where, when I was diagnosed with cancer and had no family and VERY few friends nearby to care for me, my students and their families, my colleagues, and near-strangers stepped up and filled the void.
I love Louisville for so many reasons. But reason #1 will always be the people. I love my Louisvillagers.
I still miss New Orleans. But Louisville is my hometown now. My job search 6 years ago could have landed me any number of places (the city that ended up in second place was Washington, DC). I am so, so very lucky that it landed me here.
Thanks, Louisville. Love you. Hope to keep finding ways to give back because you have given me so much.