The Naked Emperor

29 August 2007

Two Years On - A Katrina Anniversary Ramble

Well, two years ago, minus two hours or so, we lost power. And thus the adventure began.

Normally, I try to stick to a central idea for my posts. But I still can't make any sense out of the Katrina experience. And I feel the need to write. So please forgive your humble correspondent if I just ramble on a bit.

By this point, we had my parents here along with a couple of their friends they invited. We also had a house full of animals. All the outdoor stuff was stowed, and the house was sealed tight as a tick. I'd had the last breakfast I'll ever have at
Landry's two days prior, on the day we had to flee New Orleans. I was on duty down there that week.

Housing relatives in time of crisis can be a bonding experience. Or not. Sadly, my family's dynamic has always been a troubled one. And Katrina shattered that.

I saw my father at Mardi Gras, we ride in the same parade. He mentioned my mother to someone else, so I assume she was alive in February.

My relationship with my brother had been deteriorating for years. Thenakedempress and I busted our butts to have some contact with him and his family. After things went bad with the parents, we told my brother we wanted a relationship with him, but felt we were continually getting the brush off. We said that we would reciprocate, but the next move was up to him.

I haven't seen him or received a call from him since then. It's his choice and I'll respect it.

So I lost my family.

We only had minor damage to the house. The major damage was the memories.

I grew up in Lakeview. And that is just gone.

Between the physical devastation and losing my family, I feel as if the first quarter century of my life has just been erased.

Sadly, the contemporary memories of the storm won't go away. Even when I try to cover them, they come back. Even in my sleep. So here are a few.

The total blackness of the water. The smell. It gave the impression that the water itself was actually angry.

My canoe screeching to a sudden halt on top of submerged cars.

Having my body 75% encased in black rubber waders in the incredible heat and feeling the waders burning where they touched my body.

Looking down the wrong end of an M-16 in the hands of dubious cops from Florida, and being threatened by them.

The feeling of not being able to breathe in the parents house due to the heat and chemical fumes. Smelling dead pets there and not being able to find the bodies in the water.

Getting to the boa constrictor my parents had, still alive. And his skin just splitting where ever my hands touched.

The kindness of Dr. Martin at Metairie Small Animal who put the snake down for me. I just couldn't do it myself.

Being disoriented in my parents house with things rooms away from where they had been before the flood.

A doll left hanging from a bush in the West End neutral ground. To whom did it belong? Were they alive? Was the doll beloved?

Putting my foot through a table to with almost no resistance. Stair rails splitting in my hand with no pressure.

The fear of having some of that water get inside my waders.

The constant bickering of my parents. Constantly being told "but your brother read on the internet, etc".

As they say, "thanks for the memories".

We've been having candidates and other media whores coming in for a few days, and the influx will reach it's peak today. There will be speeches and prayers and memorials.

Tell me what they're like if you want.

As for me, I'll celebrate the anniversary in my own way.

I'll lock the door and enjoy privacy. I'll take a hot shower and flush toilets for no reason except to celebrate having running water. I'll turn the AC down and also run the axillary window unit we have and freeze my butt off. I'll have numerous cold drinks with ice. I'll open the freezer and marvel at it's operation. I'll go around turning lights on and off. I'll go out to buy cheap and plentiful gas at any station I see, instantly and with no lines. Maybe I'll have ice cream. Or maybe I'll use the phone for no reason other than that I can. I'll watch TV, anything but Katrina memorials.

Sorry, I lived it. I don't want to glorify it. I certainly don't want to remember it.

I'm just going to revel in this fiction we consider boring normality.

I'll try to be more eloquent and relevant in a day or two.



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