I’m heading to Lafayette, LA for the weekend — my hometown. Well, technically, I grew up in Youngsville. Actually, I technically lived in the country between Lafayette, Youngsville, Milton and Erath. Both my mother and my father’s families have been in that area for hundreds of years and I’m about as Cajun as you can get. That’s why there’s always been such a magnetic pull towards “home”.
When I moved 60 miles down the road to Baton Rouge in the late ’80s, my Daddy lamented on my moving away. We lived there for 10 years, so he got used to us being just an hour from home, even though not having us within 10 miles concerned him. Then, we moved to Memphis and all hell broke loose. Both of our families were supportive of our move, but secretly criticized our living so far away to each other. What were we thinking? Why would we do such a thing? We needed to be closer, not farther from “home”. After six years of 7 hour drives and late night, expensive air travel, and not-so-subtle hints from family, we chose to move to Mobile, AL. With both of our fathers facing health problems, four hours seemed doable on short notice and within the cone of reasonable travel for visitors to well, visit us.
Still, our families cannot understand why not Lafayette? Why not “home”, for goodness sakes? Everyone needs to be together, after all. While we love our families, and love the area where we grew up in, once you’ve been away for so long, it’s hard to just “go back”. Maybe one day, it’ll happen. After all, our son (who has never lived there) is now going to college there. I know that my Daddy would be so glad. He always thought that David would never be tied to his Cajun roots and now he’s in the heart of Cajun Country. Might even find him a Cajun bride there. He says that Cajun girls are prettier than Alabama girls. HA!
There’s just something in our DNA that pulls us there. It’s hard to explain, but it’s got the best people, the best food, the best music, the best activities and it all centers around family and friends. It’s the only place where I’ve ever felt true acceptance. Perhaps it’s the sincerity and honesty of the people or maybe it’s the joie de vivre in which they work hard/play hard. But, whatever it is, it’s strong.
So strong that Kansas City Royal pitcher, Gil Meche, has announced his retirement at 32 and forfeited $12 million of his last year’s contract to get back to his hometown of Lafayette.
He captures it pretty well, in this quote:
“I want to get back to what I remember as a kid, the way of life here in Louisiana,” Meche said. “We tend to think we live a little differently down here. It’s a lot of culture, a lot of French culture. Everywhere I’ve been in the country, for some reason, this is the place I can’t get away from.”
That’s another Cajun trait that I adore…money ain’t everything. Those who have family and friends are the richest people and whatever money you have just helps to pay for things that you can do with them. So, this weekend, I’m going to do just that. Spend a little time and money with/on friends and family, at “home”.
Another Lafayette native, Marc Broussard: