Saturday mornings are a quiet realm in my neighborhood. Well, early Saturday mornings are. I woke up at 6:30 a.m. today and couldn’t go back to sleep, so I’ve been porch-dwelling for an hour inside this cocoon of silence. Watched the sun rise from behind the Bald Cypruss tree that has, now, swallowed my front view, she’s gotten so big. Saw a couple of the familiar stray cats wander by (the skinny black one, and the black-n-white one). Eventually, life began to emerge in the form of a couple of early-morning joggers. Then a handful of dog-walkers came by – the dogs prancing to be out, the walkers stumbling in wonderment that they had to get up so early. Now, an hour later, vehicle traffic is starting to move around. Neighbors down the street have emerged onto their own porches and I can hear them taking on. The newspaper guy just came through, tossing willy nilly the copies of the Times Pic that no one ever reads. And the construction guys just arrived to keep working on the house-build across the street – so I KNOW the cocoon of silence won’t be with me much longer, today.
I love getting up early, and watching the City wake up around me.
I think we’ve all been watching New Orleans wake up for the past 10 years.
Today is August 29, and my 3rd year on the ground here for an anniversary of Katrina. But it’s not a random-numbered anniversary like 8 or 9, this year. We’re on 10, y’all. The Big One-OH.
Local and national media have been ramping up to this for quite a while now. Lots of news stories, articles, documentaries. Film-screenings, museum exhibits, interviews. Personal stories (LISTEN) and remembrances, in person or written on Facebook. Talk on both sides of How Far We’ve Come vs. We’ve Not Come Far Enough.
The build-up to this anniversary has been a flood in its own right: powerful, but overwhelming.
Now the politicians are flowing in and out – Obama earlier this week. Clinton and old Georgie W. today. I have a half-formed mind that they’re all doing it, not out of caring and love for New Orleans, but because it makes them look good to make this press stop. Half-formed, because I don’t really have the energy or mental time to get much more riled up about it. I could postulate hugely about stuff that is driving me bonkers around here on that front, but not today. That’s for another time.
There is a mixed-bag style of emotion going around. I have both heard and read friends’ stories that are still peaked in sadness and trauma. I’ve also heard others who scream out into the night for everyone to Just Move On because they have done so, and maybe also deep down because they just can’t bear to think about it anymore. And I’ve heard laughter from a crowd who shared their remembrances but who were so fully in the present.
This laughter came on Monday evening, at the start of this past week. My company held a casual happy hour over at the Little Gem Saloon, who was gracious enough to open the doors to us for a private event even though they are closed on Mondays, because they Get It. We were gathered together as an acknowledgement of the Anniversary and a celebration of how far the company has come since then. Of course I atttended – I always listen, and I listen well. Some got up and told their stories. At the end of the speeches I understood, finally, the familial bond that I’ve always sensed among those I work with every day. The folks that were working together during that time ended up being roomates in other cities, sharing not only work but daily private lives as well. It all made sense, suddenly. It was an honor to be there, and listen. Then the bar opened up and I stood there chatting with some people and realized what I was hearing. Bar sounds, certainly, and talk, but overall, it was Laughter. The whole room was awash in laughter. Groupings-off of people conversing, not only about the past but about the present and the future and it was so…SO New Orleans and I’m so glad I went, and I’m so glad I’m here.
In my own conversations, I mentioned to one of my coworkers the piece I wrote two years ago, that I re-post here every year because I can never write it again. She wanted to read it, so I shared. Then she nudged me to share it with more people, so at the end of the day yesterday I sent the link to my boss, and the rest of my 4-person department. I’m glad she made me do it – it always means a lot when someone who went through all of that stuff 10 years ago asks to hear my story in return.
And so, per tradition, here is my Away From Katrina story.
The sun is fully up now, and there are church bells ringing and a ship is sounding its WHOOM out from the river over yonder. Saturday is upon us. There is a lot going on in the City today, to acknowledge this Big One-OH. The wreath-laying, a huge second line, a parade up Lakeside, panels, meetings, poltico-speeches.
Me? I’m going to take a walk this morning. And then later, I’m going to put on a very silly outfit and go to a friend’s house to have a beer or two and get glitter dumped on me. And then we’re going way Uptown to Oak St. to line up and march in the Mid Summer Mardi Gras Parade and laugh a lot and dance in the streets under a full moon with our Krewe.
And tomorrow, J and I are going to a Saints game.
Because that’s what we do. Yeah, you right.
It was sage wisdom after Mid Summer MG last year, and feels all the more profound today.
Featured Image: One of my favorite quotes. Chris Rose is writing again, by the way. It is a good thing to see.