Hello readers! I know it’s been a while since I’ve written and for that I apologize. The last couple of months, we’ve been soaking up as much time as possible with family and friends. We even drove – yes, drove twenty-four hours – to Louisiana to spend predeployment leave in Kyle’s hometown. The more time we spend there, the more I’m looking forward to the day we can finally call Louisiana home. Being away for months at a time between visits leaves me missing some things more than others.
The sound of rain on a tin roof. Is there anything more soothing than listening to that calming, constant drumming? Maybe it’s the months of bone-dry desert-living, but I’ve missed the rain terribly. The quiet roar of a springtime downpour is music to my ears.
The food. Obviously. Do I even need to spell this one out? Homemade blueberry muffins, warm doughnuts from a local bakery, flakey biscuits, boiled crawfish, fried catfish, creamy crawfish étouffée, rice dressing, honey sausage, seafood gumbo, carrot cake from scratch, shrimp po’boys, and spicy chicken and sausage jambalaya. The list goes on. Growing up in an Italian family, most of the dishes served down south are fairly new to me. I eat a lot more seafood now. I’ve come to favor andouille sausage over Italian sausage – just don’t tell my grandparents that. I’ve considered resorting to bribery to get my hands on a certain jambalaya recipe. Acadiana, your Cajun ways are quite contagious.
The warmth of the people. From the very first day, I have always felt welcome. I’m always greeted with a hug and a sincere, ‘how have you been?’. Everyone wants to know what’s been going on in your life, even if it’s not always bright and shiny and perfect. When we had our miscarriage last summer, word got out to a few families while we were visiting. They prayed not only for us, but for the little soul that we lost. They hugged us and knew exactly what to say. They made us smile and helped us enjoy our visit, while respecting that we were still grieving.
The strength of their faith. The people I’ve met in Louisiana are unapologetically devout, which is kind of refreshing. Where I’m from, we’re told to say ‘happy holidays’ so as not to offend non-Christians with a ‘merry Christmas’. Typically, we don’t talk about our faith with friends. However, catholicism is an integral part of life in Acadiana. When someone is having a hard time, you let them know you are praying for them. Going to chapel regularly is the norm, even for teens. Mass on Sundays and every holy day of obligation is a given. Children are taught to be still and attentive during services. They know how to pray a rosary. More importantly I think, the children and young people not only go through the motions, but they understand why. I think that deep understanding at a young age is beautiful.
The children. Until we were married, Kyle’s younger nieces and nephews called me ‘Miss Amanda’. They almost always say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’. They are fairly quick with a ‘yes ma’am/sir’ when an elder addresses them. They are extremely affectionate – I don’t know if I’ve ever been hugged so many times upon entering a home. They climb up into your lap and fall asleep on your shoulder. They send little notes in the mail telling you they miss you. They sew you little felt wallets for Christmas. That’s not to say they never misbehave. They have tantrums. They are rude from time to time. But they are all genuinely good, sweet, loving kids. I’m glad our future children will have so many wonderful cousins.
The one thing I do not think I will ever enjoy? The humidity. Especially after being in the dry California desert for so long. I’ve resigned myself to a lifetime of bad hair days. I think it’s a fair trade, all things considered.
I don’t want you to think I don’t miss Pennsylvania, because I do. I miss my home and my family so badly it hurts. However, Kyle and I have decided that upon the end of his contract with the Marine Corps, Louisiana will be our new home. There are more job opportunities for him. When we do have children, there will be more readily-available helpers. School will be less expensive for me. Someday, maybe we’ll make it to Pennsylvania. For now, our future bébés will be raised cajun. C’est bon. No, c’est magnifique!