I wasn’t going to say anything.
I wasn’t going to rehash that knot in my gut, that feeling I got when we had to pack everything and leave our apartment at 10:00 at night and drive at Texas all night on three hours of sleep. That feeling when we sat in a hotel room in Longview and watched the internet broadcasts and watched the TV showing the levees busting open and water pouring into New Orleans and St. Bernard and so many other places we’d been to – and had friends that lived there. That moment when I heard that they couldn’t find my grandmother, two of my aunts, my uncle, and a few cousins, because the house they were at was full of water from the storm surge in Mississippi. The time I had to call Sallie Mae and BEG for my payment back so I could at least have $25 to my name, the clothing in my suitcase, and my laptop.
I wasn’t going to think about the relief I felt when we had to go back home to an apartment building that had been flooded – thank GOD we were on the second floor – and I discovered that the only reason our roof hadn’t come off was that they had replaced it not even two weeks prior. I wasn’t even going to consider the happiness I felt when I was lucky enough to have my old job back – and we were needed more than ever. I wasn’t going to relive the panic in my mind when we had to find another apartment in a city of people not only trying to come home – but full of contractors and workers who needed places to stay as well – and the apartment companies KNEW they could get some cash out of these guys, so they charged double what they did two months before.
I wasn’t going to relive all the pain I feel in my heart for the people who weren’t nearly as lucky as Doug and I were. Who lost everything, who were sent on buses to points unknown, who left NOLA for what they thought would just be a long weekend and took years to come home – or haven’t come home at all.
I wasn’t going to simmer in the anger I feel for the people that tried to screw the system, who felt that they needed to get as much money as possible from everyone, and used it on frivolous things like designer handbags instead of things like food for their kids, moving expenses, and replacing clothing they lost.
I wasn’t going to think about how even today, I can see the X on houses out in Gentilly and still get a lump in my throat.
But dammit, I did.
Do I think about Katrina often? Not really. Sometimes I see things (like the Xs on the houses, or houses still damaged and rotting) and I am sad for what was lost. Then I think about what Southeast Louisiana, NOLA, and the Gulf Coast has done to come back since then, in eight years, and my mood is boosted. I am reminded of how strong people can be when they pull together. I am reminded of how people here can be sweet as pie and tough as nails when they have to be.
Because when you live in a place where there’s a constant threat of wind and water beating down your door, year after year, you adapt. You grow stronger.