I had a lovely day getting some reading and writing done before hopping on the Surly for a trip to the doctor’s office. At the end of our appointment I asked her how she was doing as the 5th anniversary of Katrina and the levee breaches that flooded New Orleans. She told me a harrowing story of her escape from the city, so terrible it seemed like out of a movie. But it wasn’t. And hers is one story among thousands and thousands and thousands. It’s hard for me to wrap my head around the enormity of loss suffered here. I kept that in mind as I went for a late afternoon bike ride along Chartres, across the Industrial Canal, and down the bike lane to the St. Bernard Parish line. Contrary to some news reports, everything is most assuredly not ok, and New Orleans is most assuredly not simply “better than before,” even as huge strides have been and are being made to come back. As my friend R. said on the phone tonight, there is the time before, and the time after, and New Orleans before the storm and the levee failures is simply gone. It will never return. I stopped to take a photo of this house on Mehle and N. Rampart in Arabi. Next to it is a large overgrown vacant lot, so at first I thought this house would be an example of uneven redevelopment, a rebuilt home next to an abandoned lot. But then I saw the front of the house. Someone has spray painted “Take Down” and “Bull Dose Now” on the front of the place. So many stories here–the people who used to live here who have not returned, who surely have complicated reasons for staying away, the folks in the neighborhood who want it back, who don’t want to return home every night to this scene of abandonment, a reminder and also a threat, because blight is never good for a community, everyone with their own stories and histories and needs and wants. So many stories, and they are still being told. Because things are different now.