“Spirit of Alexandria”


I have been longing for New Orleans of late.  Just like the song says, “There is no place like home”.  I think what I miss most about New Orleans is the fine dining and that everything is always open late.  I loved the low light and ambiance of Houston’s on St. Charles Street.  I loved going to the Apple Seed for lunch in the Business District.  I loved walking up Canal Street and shopping at some of the trendy stores, or looking at the well prepared window displays.  Coffee and beignets?  No problem, Cafe Du Monde is open 24/7.  On any given day, I could get on a Street Car (trolley) and ride the entire Garden District line, just to gawk at the large commanding historic mansions that New Orleans is known for.  All of these things, to me, encapsulate the “Spirit of New Orleans”.

Moving to Alexandria was a shock.  Well, let me back up….moving to Provencal, Louisiana was a SHOCK!  According to Wikipedia, the population is 708 and there are only 300 housing units in the whole town.  This was a shock to me, I swear I have only seen around 200 people and they ALL knew MY business whether I wanted them to or not.

When our jobs moved us to Alexandria, I certainly was relieved and glad to live somewhere I could get high speed internet and did not have to make all of my purchases at Wal-Mart (not that there is anything wrong with that…but, when you have no other choices….).  I viewed my move to Alexandria as moving back closer to civilization.   Now, don’t get me wrong, Provencal had its charms.  It was close to the Kisatchie National Forest, had beautiful rural roads and its very own walking track right smack in the middle of town.  It also has one gas station/pizza place/typical country store that was a Circle K when I lived there, but that everyone lovingly called “Po’s”.  Now its a Chevron.  When I would say I am going to get gas at Circle K, I would get very odd looks from my husband’s family and some of the church people there.  They had no idea what I was talking about.  When they would say, “You mean Po’s?”, that would completely confuse me because nowhere on the sign did the store say “Po’s”.  Needless to say, I am very literal and from the city.  A combination that usually got me off the hook, because people normally just sighed, rolled their eyes and chalked my “ignorance” up to my being a “city folk”.

So, I thought, moving to Alexandria would be an improvement, right?  I guess I got the high speed internet, but I am surprised to find that, even though Alexandria is sprawled across a large area of Cenla, it is relatively still behind other comparable cities of its size.  I find that, even though we have a good Administrative leadership in Cenla, that most entities, businesses, charities and non-profits are still singing their songs solo.  Alexandria severely lacks cooperative involvement from corporations, as well as private citizens.  A lot of people sit around pointing fingers and laying blame at someone else’s door instead of getting up off their tushes and working together as a cooperative whole to find a solution. 

Anyway, I am thrilled to see the two beautiful trolley cars that the City purchased.  Of course the trolley causes my nostalgia all over again but I am hoping that, in time,  it will make the pangs of longing for my hometown subside.  Maybe the City will come up with a tour through the Garden District?  Thrilling!  I am so glad to see some charm rattling down the streets of Alexandria.  What would be even better, is  revitalization of the downtown area.  Alexandria has so much potential with the old store fronts and buildings relatively intact, to host a number of thriving businesses which would cater to the local professionals, tourists, yuppies, bicycle riders, etc.  Can’t you see it?  Coffee houses, music, loft apartments, entertainment.  People leisurely walking the streets enjoying the scenery.  We already have a wonderful orchestra and a great art district.  I think what Alexandria is lacking though is a little “soul”.  I love the quote from Winston Churchill:

“We shape our buildings, thereafter they shape us.”

Isn’t that so true?  We need to shape our buildings in the downtown area to become a pleasing recreational place for families, for tourists, for convention go-ers, you name it.  It would give our city a little “spirit” and “soul”.  I wonder if that perhaps is the reason we have such limited cooperation, prevalent racism and negativity in Alexandria?  Is it because our “soul” is gone and we feel empty and destitute which causes us to angrily lash out?  What we need in our city is a little romance and nostalgia from a gentler era of Alexandria’s history.  Whatever they decide to do with the trolley cars, I am 100% for it.  If they ever decide to use it for public tours or transportation, I will be the first in line to buy a ticket!  Thank you City for some putting Spirit back in Alexandria!