Sunday, December 04, 2005

Going Home

Yesterday I was trolling the blogs when I got a perverse urge to peek back at those days when Katrina was about to change everything, and see what some of the bloggers I like were saying about events at the time. I went to the archives of one of my favorites, Stephen Green’s Vodkapundit, and started reading forward from about August 25. I was quickly swept up – or swept back, whatever – into the experience, struck by the immediacy of it all, as of course Stephen and his commenters were writing in the present tense about ongoing events. I was truly moved by the shock and horror and deep sympathy shown by all; Stephen’s co-blogger Will Collier said he felt like he was watching an old friend dying.

And I suddenly realized that if I didn’t stop reading right now I was going to throw up.

It’s been three and a half months since we fled uptown New Orleans for Jackson, MS, literally running for our lives. I don’t know what I was thinking, going back to read those posts. I guess I thought that the overwhelming emotions of that time, the shock, the disbelief, and the deep, deep feelings of grief, they had all faded away. But they hadn’t. They’d only gone dormant, gone underground, waiting for something to wake them up again. Once awake, they had lost none of their power. (Though fortunately I did stop reading in time.)

None of which would be worth mentioning except for one thing: it’s time to go back. Three and a half months is long enough, in fact it’s too long. We would have gone back already, but were waiting for more of the medical infrastructure to come back online. A week from today, or if delayed, the next day, we’ll be going back. At least we have somewhere to return to. We’re very, very fortunate that the flooding came no closer to the house than about five or six blocks, and others in our condo complex report that our unit is OK.

But that still leaves plenty to be very, very apprehensive about. What is it going to be like, walking back into that house that we left so quickly months ago? What will it be like, picking up the newspaper that dropped from my hand on the way out the door? Or the book I was reading three months ago and left behind on a table? I don’t know for sure, but I expect it will be very, very weird. Like being an archaeologist breaking into your own tomb.

I know a lot of restaurants and grocery stores and gas stations are open, feigning normalcy, but what will it really be like, living there? Can a city be a real city if it has no children in it? Having gotten off relatively easy, but knowing how so many lost everything, how am I going to feel about those people as they try to come back and salvage something? And how will they feel about us?

And I know now I must be prepared to deal with all those feelings that jumped up and bitch-slapped me yesterday, only worse and stronger. All the reports from the city say the same thing; you just can NOT believe the magnitude of the disaster until you see it with your own eyes. It will be rough. But I guess I’m glad I know that now, with a week to prepare myself, rather than being overwhelmed by emotion at the wheel of a car driving on the interstate.

So I guess I’m glad I went back to the Vodkapundit archives, painful as it was. The experience was a wake-up call, and a warning.


Robert said...

Best of luck, Jean. Count your blessings, lend a hand to the less fortunate, shoulder to the grindstone and press on. You'll do good.

BBridges said...

Found this on Vodkapundit. Good luck. I'm from McComb, Ms but now in Ukraine and won't be back for 6 months. Very curious to see how things are upon my return.

Cybrludite said...

Best of luck. It's a hell of a lot better now than when I came back (due to work) a week after. The only way to describe it then was Hiroshima, but with water instead of fire, and a smell like someone had tossed their crawfish heads in your dumpster mid-summer, only it was the entire city that smelled like that.