Thursday, September 22, 2005

1.3 Million People -- And Their Friends -- All Going Bonkers

I'm writing from a public library in Richmond, Virginia, my newly adopted hometown. Staying briefly with a rather new friend, I've checked out the city and find it completely liveable. Since I consider the Gulf Coast as permanently unliveable, I'm here. It's a good place. I genuinely like it.

After driving more that 3200 miles since leaving New Orleans, I need to rest. But I can't. Others are far too rested and want to move. I'm far too moved and need to rest. But I've got some possessions still in New Orleans. Dogs and a car (newly purchased by my mom from a friend of hers for the generous price of $1.00 -- true generosity!) wait in Daytona. And there's a studio and home to find and create here in Richmond.

I've left my brain somewhere around here. Which city, I wonder? Or is it only in pieces along the side of the interstate? I-95 or I-65 or I-85. Take your pick.

And money is as tight as ever. And I have a home to make????

Anxious, I've yet to pass a night of unbroken sleep. The nightmares being almost too predictable, the other night I dreamt I drowned in my own bed. I sat up in a panic and I know I yelled "NO!" at the top of my lungs. What a freak. I stayed that night with Jimmy and Penelope Descant; I hope I didn't wake them or scare them.

But I had entered New Orleans that day to retrieve some of my stuff. It's horrible. Really awful. I can handle the death of an individual, you know, an old family member. But this is the death of everything. Cars that had been submerged entirely; buildings coming apart from being soaked for weeks; trees brown and gray from the polluted, brackish water. The city remains mostly empty, it smells a putrid, nausiating odor, causing me to gag a few times as I entered my house. Without a doubt, the return two days ago shocked me and sickened me more than any other part of this entire ordeal.

A word about another part of all this: all of us Diasporans are imposing, and we know it, on others. We're in the extra room, the game room, the garage, the barbershop. Our dogs are in friends' yards. My new friend is great and caring, but I'm very careful about presumption. I mean, if an old friend literally set up shop in my house while I was away on vacation, I wouldn't mind. But can I ask a new friend if I can stay for two nights? Three? Can she accept some mail for me? Can I wash my clothes there? I'm doing what I can to reciprocate and express my thanks, but money is short and my gratitude must be expressed in other ways.

So we're aware that we're putting others out. We're pacing the floors waiting to go home, only to discover a stomach-heaving place when we return. We're out of money. We're out of patience. We're out of touch with friends who we know we might never see again.

I've got the blues. The anxiety-producing, sleep-stealing, rotten-feeling-in-the-gut blues.

And from what I'm hearing from my friends, I'm not alone.

There's no corney "hang in there" line that will suffice. And christ knows I don't want to hear a single word about god and prayer. What crap.

So like a spider on a hot skillet, there's just no place to get comfortable.

No rest. No peace. No home.


Blogger porchwise said...

I had four families living at my house for a week, three for two weeks, and one (the only relative) for three weeks. I have a big home in the country (far enough away, no damage, no loss of power) and I made them party every night. They all went back (one to no home) with plenty of supplies and money to rebuild. Mother Nature is sometimes a real bitch.
I have a feeling you're creative juices are going to be flowing before long and you will probably turn out some damn fine work. Good luck.

2:52 PM  
Blogger Lizze said...

I have no idea what you are going through. Your situation is so much more real then what I am bitching about.

But keep on blogging! I think it will do you good. You never know what it will lead to.

And if I my say so a bit selfish, the blog is a good read.

3:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just stumbled onto your blog, and I feel just like Lizze above. I get teary-eyed reading what you have to say, but you're a very evocative writer and, yep, selfishly that makes for a good read. I wish you the very best of luck - Richmond seems like a place with some character, at least.

3:13 PM  
Blogger Fire Ant said...

Remember, you've always got a place in Orlando!

Fire Ant

7:33 PM  
Anonymous Lifelong cherished Friend! said...

And you've always got a home in Orange Park. Keep writing. You could make some money off it, for sure. Must've been Ms. Belanger's Creative Writing classes AND of course your true life experience.Hang in there and know we will help you in any way we can!

8:53 AM  

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