Returning after this summer, NOLA didn't feel quite as precarious. It didn't feel like the raft was 95% underwater anymore. It didn't seem like the whole damn post-Katrina thing could tip over at any moment, upending everything and everyone.
We're still fragile, a little addled, that's for sure. But New Orleans is back. It's palpable. There are still hundreds of thousands of abandoned, cat's-claw-covered buildings peppered across the cityscape like the ugly remnants of some giant blast of scatter shot - but this place will not die. Mud, for all its drawbacks, is a fertile thing. It seems there's a critical mass of intrepid people and development at this point, enough to ensure that things continue to move forward.
It's been truly amazing to see seeds germinate in the wastelands over the past two years. Some changes are drastic, some are more gradual (still in progress), and some changes are barely perceptible. There's a great deal of work to be done - and there are some nearly insurmountable obstacles to overcome in many corners of town. But things are different now.