Today, I'm going to write about what happens when you leave home to live life and you go back to discover that life went on without you.
Lafayette, Louisiana has always been constantly growing. Everywhere something new pops up. But when Phillip and I left in September of 2001, we were anxious to see what else was out there; life in Lafayette seemed like a dead-end street to us. It's not because there was not plenty to do there along the lines of entertainment etc.; it just seemed to me that there just wasn't much opportunity for this young, freshly married couple to "make it". I don't mean to offend anyone. This is just my opinion. Life was hard, and we struggled financially. We needed the chance to get ourselves established, and the military was our best option for helping Phillip live his dream. We said goodbye to family and friends during the week of Sept. 11, 2001. We also found out that "we" were pregnant with our first child on the Friday before that. We left Louisiana with lots of anticipation, yet lots of hope in our hearts. Life was about to CHANGE for everyone.
We've gone home to visit many times in the past, but last week was a real eye opener for me. Everywhere, change. Lafayette has expanded quite a bit and everywhere you see new developments. I mean, everywhere! When we left, River Ranch (a community within a community) right across the river from our old house, was just getting started. Today, it is such a busy and almost crowded place to shop, eat, live....you name it. I took Gabe for a ride through River Ranch while we were there so that we could walk through the unique shops, get a cup of coffee at CC's Coffee House and just take it all in. Traffic in Lafayette has increased considerably. I found myself almost afraid to drive around for fear of 1. getting into an accident, because now I'm an "out of towner" and 2. because I had to remind myself what streets bring me where. And everywhere I went, I saw familiar faces, but most, I couldn't put a name to. I saw families at church that when we left, had young children who are now teenagers. Scary! I saw the familiar face of one of my old doctors, and it took me all of church hour to remember who he was! (Phillip was dumbfounded on how I could confuse a priest with a Gyenocologist) When we left, Jefferson Street was just the old main street in downtown Lafayette...now, it is the place to see and be seen (from what I hear). And everywhere, new restaurants. I took in a breath of relief to see that some of my old favorite places where still there.
My original hometown is a little place about twenty minutes north of Lafayette. Sunset, LA was definitely the place that everyone knew you, your business and your next of kin. Even little ole' Sunset had lots of changes to it. It was depressing to see how some places where "run down". It was nice to see new businesses that popped up. And I had to chuckle at a group of bikers along the side of the road in the downtown area....I recognized a couple of them as guys that I went to school with. My, how we get old and change ourselves! (We're old enough to drink liquor in public now) I even saw Coach Duos' old truck for sale in the parking lot of Domengeaux's Lumber Yard and remembered that she was only one among many who drove that acqua blue Chevy. I wanted to rescue it from it's loneliness in that parking lot, and bring it home just to be able to say that I owned a piece of Sunset history.
It's amazing to me how life changes, especially when you're not around to see the gradual way in which change happens. Not just amazing, just plain shocking. I can't expect for change not to happen, I must go with the flow. I am happy to report though, that the overall expression of kindness and hospitality on people's faces have not changed...the people of south Louisiana all have that particular look to them; the look of hard working, yet friendly people that don't give a second thought to waving hello to someone they don't know.
I could go on and on about this, but I won't. I think I've made my point. This particular post is one that our military friends (or anyone who's ever moved away from home) can better relate to. I'm sure they've felt the same way from time to time. On my next post, I'll talk about one thing we look forward to every time we go home....THE FOOD!