Since I got back to town I’ve found myself caught up in rollicking emotions. More than once I have talked with people who were visibly overwrought. Understandably, many people are not coping well. In one sense, Katrina was a destroyer of assumptions, which is the fragile soil upon which many hopes and dreams are built. But Katrina destroyed property too. Over time, hopes and dreams find their way into the crevices of a home and become part of its physical structure.
Obviously, a home is not ‘an assumption.’ It’s a place where you relax in a familiar chair. It’s a place with treasured pictures and carefully placed mementos. It’s a place where lines are drawn on a doorway to mark the height of children at various ages, the low lines uneven because small ones refuse to stand still. Those markings have now been replaced by the dirty but steady lines created by flood waters.
One can’t help but notice that hope is marked unevenly.
Some people who return from surveying their houses look like their spiritual back was
broken, snapped like a twig. You hear people say that they just can’t take anymore. They say this as they pack their remaining belongings on their
way out of town. Some people leave quietly, almost shell-shocked. Others are flat out pissed off.
Katrina has magnified everything, especially our emotions. This can be bad or good, depending on the emotion. For example, any sign of optimism invokes cherished pride, much like the finger painting of a six year old child. A simple thing like the return of mail delivery (even if it’s unpredictable and sporadic) becomes a reason to celebrate.
Yes, there has been devastation and misery, despair and ruin. But there has also been spirited laughter. It’s not easy to drag a large refrigerator out into the street, especially when it reeks of the worst assemblage of vile stench ever created on this planet since grotesque organisms first bubbled up from the primordial soup. And yet, after this unpleasant labor, many people take the time to inscribe their fridge with off-beat observations. A friend of mine told me about driving into a subdivision on the Northshore and finding a house surrounded by criss-crossed pine trees, shattered pots and plant remnants. The homeowner had spray painted a large plywood sheet with orange lettering and laid it in front of one of the toppled trees. The sign read: "Garden of the Month."