I found out by accident the other day where my boyfriend is taking me for a few days in March: Lutcher, Louisiana. It’s the town I was born in and lived the first four years of my life, and it’s where all of my extended family lives. Lutcher is right smack between New Orleans and Baton Rouge, and still holds much of that small-town “charm.” There is no mall, only a few gas stations, and no movie theater. No bowling alley, 1 large grocery store and one small market, and three competing hair salons (one is owned by my aunt). For fun, the kids drive around Sonic late at night, sit in parking lots and drink and smoke, and make bonfires on the levee of the Mississippi.
There are still run-down shacks and junkyards and the parts of town that unfortunately are labeled as the “black” areas. There is still some dirty politics, which also unfortunately, derailed my uncle from winning the parish president seat this year. People still care about hunting and alligators more than they care about the education system and young children start drinking with their parents before they have even started high school.
However, I couldn’t be happier that my boyfriend planned this trip for us. Because despite the things in the above paragraph, and no matter how long I lived in Ohio, and no matter that I only get my Cajun accent when I return there- I still in so many ways consider Lutcher my home. It’s the place I can get boiled crabs or crawfish any night of the week. It’s the place I can walk three blocks and visit upwards of five family members. It’s the only place I can still go and people call me “cher” and “baby” and that’s ok with me, because they remember when I was this tall and that I’m Richard Roussel Jr.’s granddaughter. It’s the place where people will literally drop everything they’re doing and help you because you need it, because you’re family- even if you’re not.
Lutcher is a small town that isn’t even on most maps. But thousands of people travel to it each year to eat the food my family makes and enjoy the Christmas Eve open house that my aunt hosts at her house right on the river during the lighting of the bonfires. It’s a town like those towns that get written about in Eve’s Bayou and the Ya-Ya Sisterhood. There 10 different wonderful places my boyfriend could have taken me on this trip: DisneyWorld, Cubs spring training, San Francisco, or New York City. But he’s taking me home. What a thing to look forward to.