"When something really bad happened, as when an area got devastated, people might move out for days, or weeks, to stay with relatives or friends, and then move back, perhaps to a looted house, to take up their jobs, their housekeeping -- their order. We can get used to anything at all; this is commonplace, of course, but perhaps you have to live through such a time to see how horribly true it is. There is nothing that people won't try to accommodate into "ordinary life." It was precisely this which gave that time its particular flavor; the combination of the bizarre, the hectic, the frightening, the threatening -- the atmosphere of the siege of war -- with what was customary, ordinary -- even decent."
- Doris Lessing, Memoirs of a Survivor, 1975
If you're curious about the actual humans behind the next three weeks of pre-Katrina II coverage, we're holding our heads high in such an oddly Herculean effort, it's amazing that there are still bodies there to support them. By us, I mean the loosely banded 8/29'ers.
And by heads, I mean those of us still convinced we exist. I vary between I Do and I Don't. Days before the hurricane, we were in a car wreck that involved sliding under an abruptly stopped truck on a bridge. He left us there in the pouring rain, and we never heard back, aside from a business card. Based on his address, he probably died in Katrina.
That and many other indicators led up to the theory that I'm dead, too. Who walks away from a major accident, watching a slow motion truck hitch crumple your Toyota Echo all the way up to the windshield without even suffering whiplash?
Then there's the new cat. He looks exactly like the cat who died just before 8/29. At 14, it was a silly adoption but my husband is a pet guy and the new cat's only other option was the pound. Jeff accidentally calls him the former cat's name. I call him Pet Cemetery.
This numbness is pervasive. No haircut, no doctor's visit for two years now. So many elements of normal life that I don't see the point of anymore. You'd have to be pretty sure you exist for a haircut. As life gets stranger, even in a good way, I whisper to my husband before NOMRF rock star benefits, "This proves it. We're dead."
He's so patient though my ghost hypochondria, our 10-year anniversary is Halloween and I'm shopping around for a medal. Although pinning it on him would imply we still exist.
A woman gave her baby away near New Orleans last week. She handed it over to an officer in a fast food restaurant and walked away crying. That's legal now. We're becoming more Moses than Job.
Earl Turbinton, Eluard Burke; John Thompson, Oliver Morgan, and Issachar Gordon all died this week. Look them up. New Orleans legends are slipping away like mercury, and many still not home.
Jazz singer Timothea Beckerman used to call me from Long Island and not just ask for help, she needed a companion on the phone. Dr. John's phone number had washed away in the storm. Timothea was worried that friends would think she didn't want to go back. She died before getting the chance to prove how badly she missed home. I told her she would be okay.
What does a ghost know?