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Halloween in a broken city

By October 30, 2006katrina

Solo_pumpkin
Ever since my kids got older I stopped appreciating Halloween.  Or at least I did until a year ago, after Katrina forced me to spend six weeks away from home.  I returned to New Orleans once in September, before the city was ‘officially opened.’  But I came back for good in mid-October, about two weeks after parts of the city were re-opened and residents allowed to return.  A lot of emotions bubbled around inside me then.

Not many people were back, and the city was mostly made up of folks from other parts of the country: FEMA workers, CDC types, military and police etc.  The supermarket near my house was one the few open, and the hours of operation were from 10 am to 5 pm.  I remember being amazed at how empty the shelves were when I went in for the first time. But I was even more amazed that they were selling pumpkins and Halloween candy. "How optimistic," I thought to myself.

I picked up a pumpkin and some bags of candy, almost like I had been
given a post-hypnotic suggestion.  It made no sense, and yet I was
compelled to do it.  I took the pumpkin home and found an old carving
kit with some patterns.  I spent a couple of hours scooping, cleaning
and carving.  My front porch was covered with slimy seeds.  I hosed
everything down and put a candle in the pumpkin and placed it
strategically on my front porch.  Then I spent the next few days
pretending that I was actually living a normal life, and that one day
noisy little kids would ring my doorbell and impatiently await their
candy reward.

The kids never came, but I remember it was a nice night for
trick-or-treating.  Tonight, I’m pretty sure that some kids will come
and ring my door bell.  How many I’m not sure, but I’ve got the
pumpkins and some candy.  I lot has changed in one year.  I’m still
pretending to live a normal life, but with each new day I find that I
don’t have to pretend so much.

By the way, what exactly is a ‘normal life’ anyway?


P.S. If you appreciate these kinds of observations, you might want to read this as well.

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