Sunday, August 31, 2008
Two years ago, on August 28, 2006, I was in an airport flying home. My mother had died. I was numb and shocked.
In the airport, news channels flashed stories about the one-year anniversary of Katrina. The footage, the mere mention of Katrina, gave me a stomachache. At home, at work for the past year, I had been immersed in post-Katrina and post-Rita. To see and hear mention of it all around me on this day after my mother’s death, it created a kind of muddy, toxic emotion.
Last year, we’d been spared. No major hurricane activity. But we held our breath for the entire season. This year we're reminded we worried for a reason.
My mother’s death and hurricane season will always be the one and the same now. Season of grieving, death, water, fear, chaos, ghosts. I realized this the other day.
Baton Rouge, on the east side of Gustav, waits, according to my husband, for winds and rain. We hope nothing will damage our house. This timing. This terrible timing.
Yesterday morning he drove down to Cocodrie to help prepare his parents’ camp. But what can one do? The camp is six feet above water, and the surge is expected to be twenty feet. It could be a total wash, he told me. Literally.
In my life, I have loved hurricane season. Gustav is the first event that has made me feel like a foreigner away from home. I keep thinking, I should be in Baton Rouge now, with everyone else, not here, in Texas, watching what’s happening like a spectator. I should be home – getting fatty Doritos and gallons of water and bottles of whiskey and a deck of playing cards, trying to convince c. to play with me – that this is the one time of the year he has to indulge my desire to play cards (he won't, but I'll have the cards anyway). I should be on my porch swing watching the wind, or lying on the couch because I’m afraid of lying in my bed and having a tree branch come crashing down through the ceiling into the bedroom, believing that that is no way to die. What the hell am I doing in Texas, anyway?
If I was home, I would make basil juleps instead of mint. I'd miss my mom while the wind blows crazy under a dark sky. I'd experience the eerie adrenaline frenzy (a concoction of anxiety and excitement) with everyone else. Dude, I’m a Baton Rougean. Not a Texan.