The last time we were in New Orleans was for a birthday party last February. Chatty Mom planned the gathering for months, and had ten couples from around the country meet in the city one weekend to celebrate her husband’s fortieth birthday.
We stayed in the French Quarter and surprised the birthday boy on Friday night. After a festive dinner, we hit Bourbon Street. At one point I turned around to see Bill drinking a shot of something. It wasn’t just any shot, of course. This being New Orleans, it looked like a test tube of neon pink matter, and it was served by a scantily clad waitress. She didn’t give it to Bill with her hands– she used her cleavage. It didn’t faze me; I was too busy dirty dancing and collecting beads from strangers in the bar.
The next day, we were mighty glad I had remembered to pack my Alka-Seltzer Morning Relief.
We just got our power back last night. Thanks to the great men at Pike, an electric company from one of the Carolinas, I think. We’re getting to be tight with these workers from three states away– they rescued us from darkness after Hurricane Ivan also.
Until last night I was literally been in the dark about how bad things were south of us. Now that I’ve had the chance to catch a little TV, I’m in shock.
New Orleans is a special town. It’s filled with memories for so many people, including my family. My husband and I got engaged there, and we spent a good part of our long distance engagement meeting there. My brother-in-law grew up in the Big Easy. It’s profoundly unsettling to see pictures of recognizable places covered with trash and water.
Here in the Kingdom, we’re five hours away, but the destruction, though minor in comparison, is a constant reminder of Katrina’s strength.
If I stop for a moment, I feel helpless. I’ve been able to ignore it for a while, under the guise of cleaning up. Once the storm passed, everyone emerged from their houses en masse, determined to erase all vestiges of the storm from their yards as soon as possible. My sister paid my nephew $6 to clean their lawn of debris. I used another method: the “Let’s See If We Can Get The Pile Of Sticks To Be Bigger Than Mommy’s Head” challenge. We did. Huge piles of branches dot the sides of the streets all through our neighborhood.
The power has been restored to just about everyone around here, although I can still hear the neighbor’s generator in the house behind mine. That means I’m able to immerse myself in cleaning the inside of the house, which was starting to look like a barnyard. It smelled worse. The washer, dryer and dishwasher have been running nonstop to catch up with all the mess we’ve created over the last few days. The melted ice cream has been tossed, the thawed meat has been thrown away. The fridge and freezer have been scrubbed with Citrus Pine-Sol. We’re so thankful we have clothes to mess up, and food to eat.
In many ways, our life has gone on as usual. The boys only missed one day of school. All the fallen trees in the area missed our house. That did not prevent the twins from seeking to make our surroundings as dangerous as possible. Yesterday after school I found Porter and Drew up at the top of a tree they are usually allowed to climb. I had neglected to tell them to stay out of it since another tree had partially fallen into it, creating a precarious web of limbs. Somehow, they climbed right past the interloping branches without viewing it as a safety hazard.
I made them climb down and gave them permission to climb on the smaller tree that fell in the back yard. They climbed happily for about ten minutes before I heard them coming inside in tears. Drew fell out of the tree and landed on his face, slicing his lip with his tooth in the process. Porter got stung by something large at about the same time.
I spent the next few minutes with both patients on the sofa, applying ice and cautioning Drew not to get blood on the furniture. Both boys are fine. Another day, another minor medical mishap, another dip into the supply of Band-Aids and Cortaid.
There’s been a run on gas here. Bill and I decided it was okay to fill up the cars, but we stopped short of filling up red gas cans. That was my first instinct after watching the news and seeing mobbed gas stations, but after some reflection we concluded that if we can’t survive for the foreseeable future on two tanks of gas, we aren’t trying hard enough.
We can’t clean forever, however; nor can we remain in the dark about the horror that has visited our country.
Although I titled this “Getting Back Up,” I don’t think anyone around here feels like we’re at that point yet. The wound is too raw. We’re still hunkered down, waiting to see how it all plays out.
My prayers are with everyone affected by the storm.