It’s coming!

17 Jun

Ever wake up early in the morning, and get up, just KNOWING something was different, that today was going to be one of those days when BIG things happen?  I guess I’d call it a sense of anticipation, but its much bigger than a sense of anticipation like a child feels as Christmas approaches.  It’s a huge feeling, a feeling that builds over time, until IT happens.

Even if you don’t know what IT is, you know IT’s going to happen.

It’s enough to make even Mother Theresa growl.

I’m serious!  What good is a sense of anticipation being caused by that strange thing called intuition if it doesn’t help us prepare for IT before IT arrives?  Or…maybe it does.

Maybe IT doesn’t know exactly how the event is going to play out, so with our sense of anticipation, that slow building of a feverish pitch, it puts us in the correct mindset and energy level to cope with IT, through a wide range of possibilities.

I wake up in the morning, and I’m excited.  Why?  My days AREN’T that interesting-I have a lot of very un-fun kinds of tasks to accomplish.  I’m not looking forward to anything specific, and yet…

Internally, I dance and I’m singing that song…”I’m so excited, I just can’t hide it…”

Outwardly, I growl at GM to get up and go put on the water for coffee.  I spoon the ground coffee into the unbleached paper filter in the compact little holder, I get some sugar and milk…and then when the water is boiling, I pour the water over the grounds and watch it drip into the sweetened milk.  I make two mugs of it, and growl at GM again about getting up.  (He seriously hates mornings, while I revel in them.)  I check email, or mess around with a Facebook game…nothing too cerebral yet, I want to wake up my brain slowly.  I drink my coffee and at some point, brush out my hair, put it up, and get dressed.  Dogs go in and out.  Cats want fed.  GM growls and rants, it’s his morning thing.  We talk of our dreams the night before, and then of the things we are facing for the day.

The day has begun, and still the excitement lingers in the back of my mind, and that graceful young person I never was is dancing around, singing…

I look around, I read the headlines for the day, I hit the highlights of New Orleans news.  I’m searching for something, but what?  It’s not there.  I tackle the day with both hands, cursing my shoulder as I go.

Then, ever so slowly, the day begins to wind down.  Nothing has happened.  The news gets scanned again.  I have a sense of uneasiness, restlessness, and I look at the sky.

That’s kind of what its like.  There’s a storm coming, a big one.  Is it literal? No, I don’t think it is.  Still, there is the same sense of excited uncertainty.  A vague worry.  A nagging forgotten thought.  Looking for the undone thread that will cause problems.  It’s coming.  Yes, it’s coming.

Damn, what on earth is it?

Before Katrina, I kept having nagging dreams that I was stuck, that I couldn’t find my way out of the city.  I even talked to someone about the nagging fear being played out, night after night.  Unfortunately, this vague fear didn’t forewarn me of what was coming.  In reality, when the storm was coming, I had packed up and was headed north.  I didn’t know where I was going, but instead, just let myself be led forward.  I landed in Jefferson, Texas, where I stayed for a month.  It was a positively lovely community too.  I actually thought about staying, especially when no one knew if or when we were going to be able to return to New Orleans.

I think back to those days.  I had to be tough-my daughter had been visiting me, and although she was very much an adult, there was no way I could let her perceive me as helpless.  I spent a lot of time with my teeth clenched as I battled the absolute terror of what-am-i-going-to-do-now.  With a little help from family and friends, even some strangers, I got by.  I snapped once, when I was stopped by a state police officer as I was headed from the place we were staying to Jefferson itself.  I burst into tears, I had no idea if I had done anything wrong, but a ticket, or even the possibility of one, was one more thing than I could cope with.  I think the police officer wanted to run at that point, as I’m sobbing the whole story, because there is nothing more horrific than a middle aged woman sobbing at the side of the road.  I still don’t know what I had done, other than Texas requires front license plates, and Arizona, where my pickup was licensed, only has rear plates.  In any case, he let me go, without even a verbal warning that I ever consciously heard–I really was beside myself.  My daughter was horrified that I had cried-it wasn’t something she had often seen me do in her life, as I’m rarely prone to tears, especially in front of her.

When she finally got to go back home to Arizona, I was intensely lonesome, all alone with my two dogs and cat, and while everyone was very nice, I now was definitely returning to New Orleans, so there was a sense of disconnect.  I delayed my departure for Rita’s sake, announcing to those who had already returned and were waiting for me to get back home that there was no sense in me coming back only to swim now.  No one was sure what would happen, whether more levees would break, whether more water would rise.  After 3 weeks, waiting another 3 days was nothing.

Finally the day came, and I spent the entire day loading all of my stuff into the truck.  I was bringing everything I’d need, including water, to get by for at least a week.  I was bringing home the things I’d packed away from New Orleans too.  Finally, I was tying the tarp down, leaving one corner accessible for later, when poor Cali, my cat, was going to have to ride inside of a crate inside of another crate and under the tarp.  We weren’t leaving until after dark–it was just too hot for the animals without air conditioning.  I took a nap.  The room, so crowded when my daughter had been with me, was now very barren looking.

Around 10 pm, I had loaded the animals–first the cat, then the dogs and myself.  We headed down the road, and RedDog was in a foul mood, snarly at Sissy and barely looking at me.  I’m not sure what she thought as the miles rolled under our wheels and she sulked by the passenger door.  Stopping for gas didn’t improve her mood, and she stayed sullen when I walked her and offered her a drink.  I filled up again at Port Allen, even though I didn’t need the fuel really, but I’d been forewarned that sometimes gas wasn’t available.  I wanted the tank as full as possible when I arrived home.  It was early morning by this point, and I was tired.  The coffee was awful and Red remained sullen and foul tempered, barely looking at me when I spoke to her.

The sun was up before we got through Baton Rouge, and I was thankful to be headed towards New Orleans, as the traffic coming in from New Orleans was incredible.  I kept looking around, there was little change to be seen from the interstate.  Finally, we reached the Bonne Carre spillway.

Red popped up like she was spring loaded, stuffing her nose into the cracked window and sniffing long and deep.  Her front feet were folded against her chest, making her look like some kind of giant prairie dog.  I could smell it too–brackish water, faint decay odors, and odd scents that weren’t “normal.”  She smelled home.

I could see her smiling, she realized now where we had been going, and it was then that I realized she too loved living in New Orleans.

We were going home, and almost there.

Home was tough at first.  Living alone, it was downright lonely with a curfew long before sundown and long evenings of nothing.  During the day, I was working and busy, and still had to take time to run to the store if I needed anything during the brief hours it was open.  I think the grocery store was open from like 11-3 pm or something like that.  Home Depot was open a few hours a day as well.  There were a handful of convenience stores open, and the first restaurants were pizza joints, and they used canned drinks and paper dishes and disposable utensils because of the lack of potable water.  I mostly ate MREs and it was a couple of weeks before I had pizza.  I normally worked from around 7 until 5 or 6, trying to fix things and prepare to reopen.  Some days, I would have people stopping and asking me if I’d go to work for them, offering to double my wages.  I would just laugh, because their jobs would be over in a few weeks and I’d still have one where I’d been working.  In New Orleans at that time, you could find a job if you were both stupid and lazy, and I’m not kidding.  If you were breathing, you were worth hiring.  If you didn’t want to work, you were of no use to anyone in New Orleans.  Housing was scarce, and public housing was non-existent.  There was no welfare office.  I’m not sure where you went if you needed a job, but you could get hired by walking down the street even.

Now, jobs are scarce.  Good paying jobs are even more scarce.  Businesses are shutting down.  Times are tough, and the oil spill…

oh the BP oil spill…

I dunno, I have a very bad feeling about that one.


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