samedi, septembre 10, 2005

What have you done to my city?

I saw the path of this thing before I flew to Costa Rica a couple of weeks ago. I worried and fretted for a couple of days before becoming uncalm and cranky all day Tuesday. That Tuesday. No one on my rah-rah-yay! trip could understand my problem. The rules of the game were that we couldn't discuss or ask where any of us had gone to school, what we'd studied, the work we did. Or where we were from. I couldn't explain my growing agitation, my panic. I irritated a few. I couldn't be cool to save my life. Finally, late in the evening, at the third hotel of the trip, I got online for the first time since flying out of the States.

And my heart broke. There she was, my ugly, cracked beauty- rundown and languid and still the best party I've ever had- just brutally fucked over and left behind. And my people, you know... those people.

I've lived all over. Here's the list if you like:

Sherbrooke, Quebec
South Carolina
North Carolina
Sandton, Republic of South Africa
New Jersey
Florence, Italy
New Orleans
And now another good ol' U.S. of A. city.

All that to say, I've lived a lot of places and traveled to more and I've never had roots anywhere. Have always envied people who have had 'em. Been slightly in awe of them, if the truth must be told. But in New Orleans, I felt home. The kind of feeling that crawls inside of you and wriggles under your skin whether you like it or not. Now it's a part of you and ever more shall be. No use pretending. No use fighting it.

And, yes, that's not practical. That doesn't make complete sense. I didn't call it my amour fous for nothing. Poverty, racism, ignorance, violence and enough corruption to satisfy everybody related to a politician. And yet... what I found- I won't even put words on what I found other than to say that it felt like home. Right or wrong, it felt like home.

My home in New Orleans is the only one that wanted me to stay as much as I did. The only one that inspired my love and didn't make me feel like a fool for giving all of it. Leaving was difficult. Working past two midnights too many, there was no end to the packing. No end to the best cleaning I've probably ever given a house in my life. Past exhaustion, to the point that I began to hallucinate a little that this place was alive and would not let me go. A doorknob fell off the outside of my bedroom door as I laid down to sleep for two weary hours before the movers were to arrive- as if the house would trap me in that back room if it could.

I left my porch. I left my plant- the one remaining live one. I left my neighbors. My Mardi Gras decorations in the basement for the next lucky resident. Left my best wishes and not a little envy for that individual, if I'm being honest. I left and have been unsettled since.

And so, of course, once people knew where I'd come from lately, they want to know: Why didn't people leave? Why didn't anybody believe the storm forecasts? Why didn't they use the school busses to evacuate people? Why didn't the governor call in the National Guard faster? Or declare a state of emergency sooner? Why did they keep out the Red Cross for so long? Why didn't they fix the levees a long time ago? Why did people start to shoot and rob and rape each other? Why did those police officers quit? Why didn't they have more dignity than that? More honor? Aren't they ashamed of themselves? Why, in New York people were noble during 9/11. Why can't New Orleanians be like New Yorkers? Why did it take so long for rescuers and organizers to take over? Why, in New York during 9/11, things were organized and fast. Why can't New Orleans be like New York? Tisk, tisk, tisk. Well, somebody's got to pay, that's for sure. Probably everybody. Ah, well. Now they can fix the levees but they shouldn't build the damn place again where it was. Don't you think they should rebuild somewhere else? Who would be so stupid as to build below sea level in the first place?

And, yes, I know the answers to all their questions, but I am sick to death of answering questions for people whose heartache is twice removed. For people who are rational and a tad detached. People who welcome one more chance to bash the President. I am sick at heart. Feels like my whole soul is weighed down by grief. And no amount of investigating and finger pointing and responsibility taking- which, of course, must happen and will happen- can move this along.

Since getting home from Costa Rica I've stayed in my apartment. Finding reasons to be busy. Finding reasons to avoid all of my new friends. I am supposed to see them all tomorrow night for dinner, though.

Please, God, no more questions.

8 commentaires:

  1. I put "Everything But The Girl" back up. It was one of the first things that jumped weirdly to mind when I found out about this whole thing.

    It seems oddly innocent, young even. Even with it's layers. Even with it's longing.

    It haunts me a little bit. Ivan was a flirt.

  2. This was the post right after "Everything but The Girl". This little thing tears at me, too.

    Wicked Pissah

    I am so pleased that my city was ignored by Ivan. When I got back yesterday in the early evening, I went for a walk in Audubon Park.

    They'd put all the trash containers away in preparation for impending doom and the little rebel dog's biznasty had to be carried for a little while too long. (That was the only downside to the walk.)

    Other than that though, it was calm and beautiful. Tons of people out enjoying the same hot and muggy September evening in New Orleans.

    The radio was telling everybody which restaurants had already reopened. This last thing is what lets the denizens of this den of iniquity know that life has returned to normal.

    (Food is love. Don't let anybody tell you different.)

  3. (I had to kill off a golf-selling site that was trolling around, dressed up as an innocent. I've installed the word verification thingey. Saw it on K-sra's page, where you really CAN learn something new. Wonder how long it'll take the bastards to do word verification? No respect whatsoever.

    Ever vigilant and cranky, with every right at this point to be so,

  4. Also, weird thought- why was I so troubled on the very day that this was all going down? I had no access to any news whatsoever, no reason to think that the hurricane or its damage would hit at any time other than the Monday predicted.

    Am I connected somehow to places, to people especially, in some way that I am a little loathe to acknowledge or examine? This sort of thing has happened to me many times before.

    I'm not superstitious really but if I may mangle someone else's words for a moment, there is, apparently, more in heaven and earth than is dreamed of in my philosophy.

    I cannot see how we are connected. But over and over again, I feel it. I feel that we are.

  5. I remember that feeling, sitting at dinner in London in '02 with a table of strangers, I looked down at my plate. The edge was decorated with a skyline of NY; twin towers and all. My host asked what was wrong and I told her, at which point the whole dinner topic turned to whether or not the US had deserved it, who was really responsible, etc, etc. Casual, polite dinner conversation. I wanted to go throw up in the bathroom.

    And the connected feeling thing, I know that, too. It's happened before. But in your case it's probably because of those little reflective spots on the inside corners of your eye lids. : )

  6. I have no questions for you, just glad you're ok. I hope your friends are as well.

  7. well...i accidentally clicked on yr link on Belfry, The...and holy shannanigans...YOU LIVE!

    but it's all sad. it's sad that things have been twisted as such...there were no 2000 buses. the public school system of NOLA only has 324...and 70 were inoperational.
    but that's besides the point.
    i think it more prudent to just say i missed yr clunk. missed your guts.
    and make smiles evaporate the sadness that lurks in your heart. life will adjust. no more funk.
    just jazz.
    and razzledazz.
    for luke.

  8. Miss you, miss NOLA, miss the good times. Keep that chiseled chin up and we will party in a new city. Soon...soon, my precious. Gollum.