There are days when I think about how my life would be different had I never left “home” (Louisiana). Then, I sit back and realize how much my life has changed because I left Louisiana.
I made the decision to move away from Baton Rouge during my last semester at LSU. I’d accepted a job with a big computer company for the sole reason that I would be allowed to live in Baton Rouge. My new job would require nearly 100% travel each week. It was the perfect arrangement: I had the option to live near my family, but it was a great job and I’d get to travel the world. I was going to set the world on fire.
Then as it always does – life happens.
Shortly after accepting the job, my father suddenly passed on as a result of a heart attack. In that instant – everything in my life changed.
I remained committed to graduating and keeping my job, but it felt like my entire life was turned upside down. About 6 weeks prior to graduation, I received a call from my new manager asking if I would be willing to move to California. The traveling projects were drying up and they really wanted me to work in their eCommerce division, based in the San Francisco area.
I completely and utterly fell apart on the phone. I was frustrated knowing how unprofessional I sounded, I couldn’t help myself. I was literally consumed by grief. I had no choice but to tell this perfect stranger that I couldn’t possibly move halfway across the country where I knew no one and had no support system so soon after the sudden death of my father. She was perfectly understanding and I offered to move to Atlanta instead (the only compromise I could muster at that point). My cousin was willing to move with me and I’d at least have a support system there. I’d also be within driving distance from home. It was still the “South”, so I figured adapting would be pretty seamless.
That’s the story on how I ended up here in Georgia. I thought that getting out of Louisiana was a good thing for me – it would get me away from the memories. It was a brand new start.
Looking back on my decision to move away, I realize that it all came together as a life plan for me. It was how my life was meant to unfold. I had multiple job offers before graduation (IT is a hot job market), but they all required me to move outside of Louisiana: Memphis, Cleveland, Dallas were all options, but I decided that staying close to home was most important to me.
Then the bottom dropped out of my life and the memories surrounding me became too painful. The door opened to me leaving, which I thought would offer me some relief from the pain.
Leaving Louisiana introduced me to people, places and experiences I would have likely never had if I’d stayed. Yet, there’s always a longing – a whisper in my soul that Louisiana will always be home. I can’t explain it – it’s almost written into my DNA.
I met a friend here in Atlanta who is from Scott, LA and it’s incredible how similar our tastes, preferences and thoughts are – I can only reason that it’s our Cajun culture coming out. Spending time with her feels like being home. We met through mutual friends of friends and stayed in touch. Experiences like that in Lafayette can be chalked up to it being a “big city / small town” where everyone knows everyone else. Here in a city of nearly 5 Million – there’s something bigger at work and our chance meeting years ago is proof that we’re exactly where we’re meant to be at every moment in life.
After leaving Louisiana, I began to notice the special parts of our culture that aren’t present in the rest of the world. These were things I took for granted before I left home. These traditions, expressions, thoughts, music and language were things that reminded me of home. They kept me connected to my roots.
Every time I would learn a new skill or craft, I’d always let my creativity blend with my roots. What would result was a unique interpretation of my culture through a new medium. That’s how the idea of The Creative Cajun was born.My creativity blends with my roots to form a unique interpretation of my culture Click To Tweet
I realize now that I had to leave in order to grow. Now that I’ve had so many unique life experiences, I’ve seriously considered returning. It would be a different me returning to a different “home”, but maybe that’s where my life is leading me again.
There are fears that accompany the thoughts of returning home.
Will I be able to adapt again to living in Louisiana? Would I feel stifled or at peace? Maybe time will tell. In my 17 years of living outside of Louisiana and traveling all over the US, I’ve never, ever found a more loving, welcoming, selfless culture than that of the Cajun people. Maybe I would be just fine moving back “home”. I know my people and they’d take care of me. I’m sure it’d feel good to be back home.
Are you a Louisiana native that’s moved away? Share your experiences in the comments below. I’d love to hear your story + experience.
My last name is “Hebert” sounds like “A-Bear”….I lived in Baton Rouge for a total of 31 years and decided to leave to get away from my horrible, tragic, experiences there, inclusive of Hurricanes Katrina, Gustauv to name only two, and the death of my young husband to cancer at 48 years old. I have now lived in southern California, now, for 5 years…and I, as you mentioned in your article, have met only one person here that I can stand to be around…and she was born and raised in New Orleans and her sister, in Baton Rouge. Now with Covid-19 and everything that has come with it, (seclusion, closures, no group/or outdoor activities) at this point…at least returning to Baton Rouge and it’s tempermental weather and Mosquitos none the less, seems more tolerable than the devastation of life we have come to know in California…
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