I love New Orleans for the turbulent par- ties, the festivities of Mardi Gras, the Crawfish Bowls, the Saints games that play on nearly every television, New Orleans parish, the beauty of Audubon Park, the local soccer games that happen every day at a local school from 5-9 with pick-up soccer on Wednesday, the number of times I went into a dinner and broke bread with friends and families, the number of timesI stayed out late to party at a friend’s house, or just chill with friends, as well as the Gumbo, the Crawfish, the little walk from my house to Ferret street with all the stores, to finally, the

number of people whom I know within the city just though conversation through any of the reason I’ve listed.

However, the city, which I love to the bot- tom of my heart, is also my biggest bane in life. You see, in this city, where there are many things that are good about the city, there are many other things I must worry about when I travel in any part of the city.

Maybe it’s the number of shootings which I have seen, or heard from the inside of my house, or trying to provide a proper education for myself due to the school-to-prison pipeline system that runs rampant throughout the city, or worrying about whether this is the day where I get harassed by the police over running to Tulane to play a pick-up game of soccer, or dealing with the peer pressure to come off the track I’ve been on to provide for the family at times when it got rough or to hard to handle.

There were times when I had to take up a

role as sort of a money provider in my father’s absence. I remember having to work odd jobs in the neighborood to provide food, and money for the family, when my mom’s paycheck wasn’t enough. Things got so bad that even the police gave me a hard time wherever I went. I remember having a police officer search my bag of Arizonas and ice-cream, thinking that it was alcohol or drugs that I might have been carrying, and melting $20 worth of ice-cream, which at the time, was a large amount of money to lose.

When people say that they love New Orleans for Mardi Gras, I think to myself, “If only they saw the other side of the festivities,” as Mardi Gras could bring heartache to someone as the number of crimes increases during that time. I also tend to think of the number of beads that are thrown during Mardi Gras, that if we could

even cash in a quarter of the worthless plastic. I think about the time when I had to do odd jobs to buy my own toys, my own games, my sister’s lunch, my and their treats, and at times, provide dinner when we had to scrape. I remember having to see a homeless man every- where I went back in the day. I used to give $1-5, and chatted about life with a couple. I forged a couple of lasting friendships by just talking, sharing ambitions and dreams with people who

wanted to talk with someone for a while.
I sometimes think that I carry their dreams with me. With those dreams, I carry a burden that many fail to carry all the way. However, I still carry it with my head up high, mainly because of the love from my mother, my sisters, my uncle, aunts, my grandma, my cousins,

friends, and my mentor.