Saturday, August 28, 2010

Thinking about Katrina

I have some things to talk about here, and this is delving into things that I do not always bring up on this blog...but the ongoing news coverage of the five year anniversary of Katrina has really got this spark going. Somehow, these images are bringing up things for me that I had not thought about in so long. The same video tape of stormy images is sometimes rolling through my mind, but the reality really sets in when it is plastered everywhere you look.
Tears welling up in my eyes as I am watching this coverage. I am always amazed how very few of these images I have seen in the news. This is one thing the general population does not understand about actually being only saw a tiny slice of it. We are used to this information age where everyhting is instant and immediate and vast. I mean look at these videos of the miners trapped in is unreal.
But during the storm, we had no television. We did not have a radio, and no one's cell phone worked. Our only source of information was our own two eyes and word of mouth. I really did not realize how much damage there was because I had no access to all this. All these heartbreaking stories in the media...these people we follow throughout the whole really is a great avenue for storytelling. It always amazes me to see this Katrina footage. It is overwhelming. It is unbelievable. And I was there.
I saw a lot of shit myself. There are so many images from those days that I will never forget. It is weird sometimes how these images are jarred in my memory. A voice. A smell. Sounds...and sometimes they are more free form, just flowing on their own course through my brain, my soul. Things I touched, and that image will stay with me forever. And as time wanes on I look deeper and deeper into some of these pieces of the puzzle.
I think of the families of those who were lost and never found. You hear from them before the storm, and then you never hear their voice again. No body recovered, or identified. I think of the parents who never found their children who might have been long lost in New Orleans. I think of the children who never heard their parents again...this is a common story from the storm. You know now, five years later that they are gone, but I think about the process.
When do you start to worry? And when do you start to give up? Those first days after the storm everyone who had a loved one in the city was panic stricken. I know my parents were. My friends were. And I never even thought about that.
I had no idea how bad things really were. I had no idea how widespread the damage was, and how horrible some places were. I had heard rumors of people shooting guns from the Superdome, and I knew there was water everywhere because I could see that with my own two eyes. I never even thought my parents would be terrified for my life. I really had no idea how bad this was at first. It did not seem that bad to me. It was crazy, and it was mayhem in ways...but I really had no idea it was flooded everywhere. It took a couple of days for things to escalate. Still, I had no idea how bad the storm really was until I watched the news on September 12, the first morning I woke up in Rhode Island. Then, I stared at the television with disbelief.
The events following the storm are really strange in my memory. They are fuzzy sometimes, and take on this choppy dreamlike quality. The images seem jumbled sometimes, like bits and pieces of real life are just spliced and taped back together more haphazardly. Sometimes, it is like I am right back there.
The other day, images flash like they do...and suddenly I am right back in Larry's foyer. The water is sloshing in my shoes. I can feel my jeans wet and clinging onto my legs. I could see the grain in the old wood, and I could feel the linoleum under my feet was caked with dirt from all the water we were dragging in and out. I could feel the door knob in my hand, with its resistance in the way it turned. The light, barely peeking into the hall from the front door of the house as I walked down that hall to my apartment in the back.
I see that bedroom, and I can still smell it. Smells a little like medicine in there, cigarettes and stale. There is old funk, dirt, sweat, and weed. She sits on that couch all day, too fat and poor health to move around much. Her raspy red neck voice reeks of despair and rot. The comforter felling like grime would come off in cakey little balls all over your hands, your skin...leaving a little film of dirt and animal hair. That bathroom, tiny and porcelain. God, I spent a lot of days in the bathroom back then.
A junky spends a lot of time in the bathroom, especially after their habit escalates, and their demand increases while the accessibility of their veins decreases. I am looking at all the bathrooms in my old junky mind. Looking at the bathroom in almost everyplace I went. I have shot up in so many fucking bathrooms it is crazy. The bathroom upstairs at Temptations. The bathroom at The John where I once forbidden to go into after breaking a toilet. The bathroom of a nice restaurant I later worked for after I got clean. Every bar bathroom, and fast food joint in the Quarter, it seems. I could tell you what every bathroom of my friend's looks like...even if I only went there once. And yet, I cannot really remember all the details of my ex husbands face...but yet I can look back in my mind and see every bathroom so clearly, like I was still there. Strange, strange, strange...
Speaking of the ex husband. (Another topic I do not often discuss...) I wonder if his thoughts have wandered to me as he sees these images flashing across every television in America this weekend. His mind must think of me sometimes. He must be reminded of me with all this coverage of the storm. But, then maybe he does not. Maybe I never cross his mind, like I have vanished from his life's map. Sometimes, I just wonder about it all. Still reeling in disbelief at how my life turned out sometimes. It wasn't supposed to be this way.
But, it has all been worth it, I think, sometimes when these stories keep pouring out of me more rushing than the flood waters, more powerful than those forces of nature at times. It has all been worth it, I think as I am finally getting it right. Not without heartache and sorrow. It is no secret, though, that a writer needs something to write about. A writer needs those stories to tell, and now I am armed with a plethora.
The Hurricane saved me in so many ways. I sometimes wonder where I would be if not for Katrina. And I think I would not want to be anywhere different than here. I am happy here. I am creative and smiling. The road is rocky sometimes, especially as of lately. But, it seems like when things get a little out of whack these days something always happens to put perspective back in balance. I just left an abusive relationship, and I am frustrated about all the chaos...but then I get a email praising my writing...and i realize it is always worth it. Everything does happen for a reason, and it time those reasons will be revealed. Until then, I just keep writing.

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