Thursday, May 29, 2008

Yes, all of the above

Where is the optimism I had two years ago? In the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, I was sorry for myself, but not sad. When I saw the carcass of what was once our home--dank, molded and smelling like a garbage truck--I was filled with sadness, but not remorse.

I don't know if that makes sense to anyone except me, but it's how I used to feel.

And somehow, I was defiant. I was determined. I was optimistic. I started writing this blog to express those sentiments to myself, my family and friends, and the world.

Now that we have a new house and we officially sold our vacant property to the Road Home, I feel very different.

I feel tired, and beaten, and a bit depressed about it.

Am I tired because this has been going on for so damn long? Is it because our particular "Road Home" has been a winding, uphill trek of more than two and half years? Is it the long hours I've been working, saddled with the "time off" spent working on the "new" house?

Am I beaten because I originally envisioned a new house on our property in Vista Park, rising high above the ground to escape future floods and strapped down at every stud to resist powerful winds? Is it because I had to take down that sign we had out front for the past year, the one that proudly proclaimed, "We're rebuilding"?

Am I depressed because I see the slow, painful progress of my once beautiful neighborhood, and I know that I am doing nothing to help? Am I shook up by my neighbors who have not elevated their homes but merely nailed up new sheetrock, as if the basic flood protection here, still under construction, was in fact bulletproof and finished? Does it bother me that national newspapers print smug and insulting stories of our struggle to recover from a disaster of biblical proportions, while local media uncritically print and broadcast the unsubstantiated allegations of angry and irrational critics?

Yes, all of the above.

I tell myself things will get better. I tell myself my life will be easier in a few weeks once we've fully unpacked and settled into our new home, leaving behind forever the tiny lifestyle of a FEMA travel trailer. I tell myself that buying a house and investing in New Orleans is a positive act of helping with the recovery.

I tell myself that the unreasoned scorn of strangers outside of Louisiana is not important, that their anger is theirs own alone. I tell myself that New Orleans was created by outcasts, misfits and adventurers, and that the only proper way to rebuild it will be with the help of outcasts, misfits and adventurers.

And I make it a rule never to lie to myself.

More than two years after the water went down, I still have a house full of love, appreciation and support. I still live in one of the great cities of the world. I still have a lot to look forward to.

Oh, there's that optimism!


Mark Folse said...

Happy June 1. Not meant to drown that new found optimism but only to offer an explanation of the opening.

Judy Thorne said...

Thank you, Tim for putting into words feelings I have been having lately. I didn't lose everything as you and your family and thousands of others have, but I share the feelings of sadness when I read those ugly words written by those who have no idea what the survivors of Katrina are experiencing.

Thank you Tim for your beautiful optimism.

jeffrey said...

outcasts, misfits and adventurers

Sometimes I wonder if, despite all the things we tell ourselves about why we're all still here, the actual reason is that we're the kind of people who always root for the underdog. Which is a curious thing upon which to base a life decision-making matrix. Or maybe it's just the right thing. Who knows?

Unknown said...

You nailed it, Tim. Thanks for this post.

Anonymous said...

You've left behind your trailer lifestyle, but the trailer is still on your lot in Vista Park. Jez, dude, can't you see some of us have to live here.
Just kidding.

Tim said...

We have just a few more items to collect from the trailer and then we'll get FEMA to yank it out.

Best wishes, Vista Park. We will always speak fondly of you.