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Photo by Stephen Walker on Unsplash

It’s a place. A dot on a map—metropolis, village, city, town, and it has a name. A name that is as different as there are places. Yet it sounds the same because it’s called home. Oh, you may say Omaha or Terre Haute or Seattle, Bangor or even, New Orleans, but the sound comes out “home.” This dot, this spot, this home leaves a mark no matter where you travel, how many times you move or where you live the longest.

Several times in my life this mark of home has caught me by surprise, bringing a wistful smile, a heart tug, a precious memory. Ridiculous as it may seem, my first awareness of home, New Orleans, being a permanent part of me, was on a train returning from a summer in California.

Ummm, I was so excited to be boarding the Panama Limited, New Orleans to Los Angeles, my 13th birthday present, a summer with an aunt and uncle. Of course, I remember the first night sleeping on the train, in an upper berth, the delicious excitement of climbing that short ladder, opening the curtain, and climbing into “my bed.” I’ll never forget the dining car, the helpful porter, pulling into Los Angeles, seeing my waiting relatives. It was an unforgettable summer of adventures, Hollywood Bowl, MGM studio tour, Farmers Market, Olvera Street, Griffith Observatory. My aunt even arranged for an audition at a recording studio. Fortunately, there are no copies of the record!

What does all this have to do with a mark of home? Well, on the return trip, as the Panama Limited sped across East Texas and crossed into Louisiana, welcoming drops of rain rolled down the windowpane. Gazing at the precious drops of water flowing down the outer pane, I traced a drop with my finger and wondered why my face was getting wet. That musty odor
of rain hitting sizzling pavement, the cry of our back door neighbor, calling out, “rainin’” and eight kids rushing to get the laundry off the line, the realization that summer had been fun, yet…

“Do You Know What It Means to Miss New Orleans?” or Boston, or Memphis or Tulsa?

Contributed by: Barbara Furlow

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