by angeliska on October 16, 2005

The trip back to New Orleans was
a series of strange revelations-
(or something from the book of..)
Driving with my uncle, towing the trailer,
hunched in the corner of the truck, a ball of worry.
We took the scenic route, though little towns
with names like Cut-and-Shoot and Whiskey Bay,
making our way towards the place I once called home
to see what we could find.
On auto-pilot sometime before midnight
I directed us through Slidell
(to avoid non-existent traffic in the CBD?)
pitch blackness greeted us, military convoy
following behind, abandoned cars,
high muddy waterlines, all silent- ghostly.
My knees were literally quaking as we pulled
off of Elysian Fields onto my street,
no one around..
The next morning I took my sweet time,
deep breathing through another cigarette,
another cup of coffee, locating my respirator,
my gloves, my camphor.
I’ve never been so scared in all my life.

It looks not so bad from the outside, eh?

By the time I was ready to pick my way through
the rubble up the stairs, just to look and photograph
first- I had already accepted whatever destruction
lay behind the door. In a way, it was almost
fascinating- to see a house taken apart like that..

Myrtle was right- it was like stepping into Bosnia..

That light fixture used to hang a good deal higher.
I kept hitting my head on it while trying to navigate the room.

I suppose that if you didn’t really know what it looked like
before, that this might look kind of neat-
some abandoned madman’s house, perhaps.
It looks like Ed Gein should live there, no?

Our kitchen was once quite tidy.
Many cakes were baked there.

Santa Barbara and todos los santos fared not so well.

I had written off the mummified cat as too moldy-
but ended up bringing it back anyway..
Maybe it can be cleaned up and salvaged.

Pandory’s room fairly intact and still lovely..
Note the sagging paint on the wall..

Formerly my vanity- trashed and thrashed..

But how did this corner end up untouched?
A fucking miracle, truly.
Considering how much damage
had been done (85-90 % of the ceiling gone)
and how much water had come in.
It was stank-nasty up in that joint-
my lovely pillows blooming with spores,
every shoe dripping green furry stalactites of mold.
Anything leather, pretty much all furniture,
electronics, appliances, et cetera had be be tossed.
I left so much behind me.
I never imagined I would be throwing beloved
treasures into a garbage bag with hunks of
rotty molding plaster and.. Smiling?
Because the really priceless things,
the really special things were mostly okay.
The teapots and teacups are soaking in bleachwater.
The quilt is being laundered.
The books? Mostly fine!
Though Black Lamb, Grey Falcon
and House of Leaves were notable casualties.
Hanging things out to dry in the sun.
I have a lot less now,
and I think it must be good.
Most of it is sitting on my front porch
in cardboard boxes, because I’m afraid
to bring it in until each little thing
has been wiped down. Egads.

Once beloved frocks and such-
now refuse and rubbish!
And dismembered balcony railing.

Saint Snow White was hit pretty hard,
but I think she can be repaired.
La Belle Dame Nouvelle Orleans
is somehow also still alive-
still jasmine wreathed and redolent
in all sorts of ways- (some make you retch!)
she can still open you up like a flower..
Green parakeets and flowers blooming.
In the end, I was almost jubilant-
the kind of elation you get from
coming triumphant through trial,
from staring down your worst fear
and emerging stronger for it.
It broke my heart to leave.
I was happier than I had been in months,
just to be home, to see my neighbors,
my friends- tough and beautiful and alive!
To ride my bicycle through the streets, oh!
The city is slowly coming back,
in fits and starts- but it won’t ever
be the same, sadly.
Someday I’ll be back there.


[…] I need to be a little more zen with the material objects. Trying to learn that lesson. Between the hurricane, the renovation, and the destructo-dog, I think I’m getting the picture! Breathe, and let it […]

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