“Problems cannot be solved at the same level of awareness that created them.” – Albert Einstein

I wrote this post during last year’s Mardis Gras.  I revisited it while reminiscing through my old MySpace blog.  The pain, the regret, and the tears still come back, as fresh as when I wrote it.  It is a chapter of my life written in indelible ink on my memory.  While our government’s handling of the biggest natural disaster in US history may not stand in in the march of time as our biggest national disgrace, it is the one most intimate to me.  I may never regain my faith in our civic leaders. 

Although I know Kris and I made the best, the only, decision we could to survive financially and emotionally intact, I will never stop mourning New Orleans, nor get over the lingering sense of guilt at abandoning her: 

It started on Mardi Gras.  I think the combination of finally selling the remains of the house in Slidell, juxtaposed on Mardis Gras finally did it.

For the most part, I have not really had the chance to mourn the loss of the house.  I mean, there have been a few crying jags and all, but all-in-all, I don’t think that what happened really sunk in.

I knew this day would come, and hoped it wouldn’t.  I miss home.  I miss Louisiana.  Every time a radio show comes on about what is going on in New Orleans, or I read an article about one more displaced person, I have this horrible aching, sinking feeling.  It’s so bad I cannot read anything from beginning to end if it mentions Katrina.  I have to turn the radio or the TV off, or to another channel.  The pain, the despair, is just too much.

Kris says he doesn’t miss New Orleans much – he just misses our friends.  I miss our friends a LOT.  But I also miss the city.  There is no place on earth like it.  No place where people identify themselves so much by where they are living.  It’s not just a city, it’s a way of life.  It’s living each day slow, one day at a time, and taking the time to revel in good food, good laughs, good music, and the sun on your face.  It’s a mix of Old Europe, New World and Third World that you won’t find anywhere else.  It’s Gumbo.  It’s Lagniappe.  It was the home I chose.

Katrina took something away I can’t get back.  It wiped out my history.  I have almost nothing left of my life before August 29, 2005.  Nothing to show my son.  No pictures of his mommy as a young girl.  No old SCA photos.  No pictures of me in school in Spain.  Absolutely NO trace of my first marriage.  All that is left is from a small tubby I kept in the attic.  And I am still sad that he will never get a chance to grow up in the room that I spent nine months meticulously preparing.  He will not know by that physical presence how much his little life was anticipated.  Something intangible was stripped away that can never be recovered, only duplicated like a poor photocopy.

And there is nowhere to tell your story to try to get it out of your heart.  The same story is being told, over and over again, all over the country, by family after family, to the point where people are tired of hearing it.  So you carry it in you like a sharp stone in your gut.  And you tell yourself that you are lucky because you survived, and you moved on, and life goes forward.  But it doesn’t really make it go away.

Almost six months of my life – 3/4 of my son’s life – was stolen.  Blown away in wind and storm surge.  Lost in hours on on the phone transferred from person to exhausted person, numbly repeating the same information until it comes out of your mouth without thought.  Lost on countless miles of highway from house to house.  Lost in sleepless hours of worry where you turn everything over and over in your head, wondering what the heck you are going to do.  Lost in the interminable limbo of a life on hold, neither in one place or the other, where a question as simple as “what’s your ZIP code” has no easy answer.  Lost in deciding, with a slate wiped completely clean, who you really are and where you are going with your life.  Because all the signposts you used to have are gone.

Now, our last physical tie to Louisiana, the house, is gone.  We built it on our dreams and now another man will rebuild it on his.  But somehow finally and truly being in one place doesn’t make it feel any better.

Laissez le bon temps, roulez, y’all.  Happy Mardis Gras.

February 19th, 2007 at 8:24 pm
One Response to “Mardis Gras Mourning”
  1. 1
    Bambi Says:

    I was in tears this morning when Good Morning America was brodacasting from New Orleans. They were talking about Mardi Gras and also how far New Orleans has to go to get back to where it was. All I could think of however is how much I miss you guys.

    Can’t wait to see you this weekend.