Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Special Edition: My Katrina, Further down the Road

I became a serial blogger on September 2, 2005, while exiled in Florida, heartbroken to my core, trying to work through what was happening... and what was going to happen... in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.  I'd lived in Louisiana for seven years at that point, in New Orleans for six.  You'll often hear people from New Orleans say that they love the city with the same kind of love they have for their families.  And that was me.  I'd fallen in love with New Orleans as a teen, worked my entire young adulthood to get there, and never imagined I would ever leave.  Ever.  So much so, that I'd never evacuated for a hurricane. Ever.  Until Katrina.

A while back, I thought I would honor the fifth anniversary of Katrina by re-posting posts from that blog, simply called "Displaced."  And just ten minutes into starting to re-read the blog, I started to cry.  And I realized I couldn't keep reading.  Most of it is just too sad.  And some of it is too incongruously beautiful.  But I thought I'd start by republishing the first post, at least.  I reserve the right to not publish any more.  I've not changed any of the typos or grammer errors-- or even the places where I sound utterly mad.  Mad as in crazy.  Mad as in MAD, too.  I've just changed a couple of the names and left out a few work details.

... by this post, Roommate & I had been taken in by a mutual friend in Tampa, Fl.

Post title: Sunday Update
Original post date: September 4, 2005 3:57pm

L has a back patio with a screened-in pool.  A little waterfall runs off and on into the pool, and I find myself needing to go to the bathroom every twenty minutes.  It’s either the sound of the water or the beer.  It’s Sunday; this weekend, Roommate and I were supposed to go away for our shared birthdays (Aug 29 & 31).  I’d pretty much decided on a fishing camp on the water in Morgan City; I’d wanted to go to Biloxi to see Dwight Yoakem in concert, but the room rates were too expensive.  And now, neither Biloxi, nor the rooms, nor Dwight Yoakem is there.  Morgan City still stands.

As I type this, the red-boxed “Breaking News” on CNN.com is that police have shot and killed 5 members of the Army Corps of Engineers on a bridge outside of New Orleans.  Details to come.

Was it just yesterday, or this morning, that I felt for a nanosecond that things seemed to be getting better?

I’m so tired.  I don’t sleep well, and that has nothing to do with L’s accommodations.  And I don’t sleep much.  And just being awake makes me tired.  But my God, any time I feel myself lapsing into anything that even remotely resembles self-pity, I feel like dashing my head against bricks.  And that in itself is exhausting, to be honest.  I guess this is what they call “survivor’s guilt.”

I really anticipated having some “news” this weekend.  But we’ve heard only briefly from our headmistress.  
I got a personal email from her this morning; she told me to be patient and that she was assessing how much of the community was in Houston.  I’m gathering that there may be a satellite school in the works there. 

I’ve checked out my block on Google Earth; the satellite pictures as of 8/31 and 9/1 show my house and my car.  They’re there, and there’s no tree damage, but that’s all I know.  The Whole Foods three blocks away is missing a good portion of its roof.  We read on the 
www.NOLA.com message boards that the Whole Foods and all the blocks between there and our apartment had been looted.  But at that time (two nights ago) the homes had been spared.

Every so often, I think of things I left behind.  But somehow in the rush of preparedness, I managed to fill Tony (Roommate's car) with so much of meaning.

I have the photo album that my grandmother, gave me on my 20th birthday full of original and irreplaceable pictures of my dad as a kid.

I have a few pieces of artwork that I did—crappy though they are.  I have the one piece of original art I’ve ever bought, a picture of an iris.  I bought it last summer for more than I could afford directly from the artist in a gallery in Bay St Louis, Miss.  A town that, essentially, no longer exists.

I have framed pictures of my dad.  I have framed wedding pictures of both of my grandparents.  I have the engagement ring that my dad gave my mom that has, since my divorce, hung on my wall in a glass box.

Roommate suggested, as we were leaving, that we should just take everything in our closet and stick it in the trunk.  So I pulled armfuls of clothes out of the closet and shoved them in Tony’s trunk.  As a result, I am lucky to have a plethora of outfits (although not a single pair of pants), but I also have a ton of clothes that don’t fit me—clothes that stayed in my closet “in case I get skinny again.”  If you know of any homeless Katrina victims who are a size 0 or 2, let me know.

Update:  Now CNN says that the corps of engineers were not killed… the people who were shooting at them were.

My lifestyle is such that I am frequently away from home for months at a time, especially in the summer.  This summer I was away from home from mid-June through the first week of August.  Last summer, I was away from home the entire summer.  I am used to being away.  I’m sure Roommate is too—he averages one trip every other month, maybe more.  But still… homesickness.

Last night, B and L and J and I went to the Tampa Theater and saw “Broken Flowers” starring Bill Murray.  I’m a huge Murray fan, and
he didn’t disappoint.  And yet, I was the only person in our group who didn’t like the movie.  When they asked why, I could only say that I was not in the mood for that kind of movie.  The cynicism of everyday life doesn’t interest me any more.  I used to be a card-carrying cynic.  But all of that seems so shallow right now.  

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