Well. That was fun.
At the beginning of the week, my biggest worry was whether my older daughter would get her preferred art elective and if I had saved enough calories for a glass of wine with dinner. By Wednesday, I was scared my house was going to float away as water came up over my front two steps – the highest it’s been since Katrina, according to my neighbors. And Thursday saw me waffling about whether to stay at home for Barry or go to St. Louis for the weekend to visit Ruby and then deciding instead to go to my in-laws’ in Amite and packing while crying.
It was a roller coaster, y’all.
I don’t want to claim that I have PTSD from Katrina because I don’t think that’s fair to the people who were here for it. I didn’t spend the days after Katrina down here dealing with the nightmarish hellscape that New Orleans became OR somewhere else wondering if I had a home to return to. I was in Missouri, in air-conditioned comfort, sleeping in my own bed.
But I wasn’t unaffected. Katrina and its aftermath were not fun for anyone. I couldn’t talk to my dad for days after the storm and didn’t know if he was safe; I still remember breaking down the first time I heard his voice over the phone. I couldn’t find many of my friends who didn’t evacuate, and when I did, they all had horrifying stories to relay. I cried erratically for days, sometimes walking out of my office, getting into my car, and just driving around rural Missouri listening to sad music and silently weeping. My dad’s house in Mid-City flooded, and he lost a bunch of family photos and childhood mementoes. And it was impossible to love New Orleans and not grieve for what had happened here, all the lives lost and all the history washed away, the city changed forever. Yes, I was lucky, all things considered, incredibly, embarrassingly, accidentally lucky. But no, it is not a time I like to revisit.
So I don’t have PTSD, but I do get irrational and emotional and maybe even borderline hysterical when there’s a storm in the Gulf, particularly when the river was forecast to potentially overtop the levees. My husband asked me to remember to start the dishwasher before I left on Thursday so we would have clean dishes when we came home, and I teared up and said very dramatically, “If our home is still standing …” That’s not reasonable behavior.
Of course, it all turned out fine. I spent a day or so obsessively watching weather reports and trying not to binge-eat an entire bag of chips, but once the river crested and they walked back their overtopping fears, I felt better. We watched movies and read books and baked cookies; we didn’t even lose power.
But I am too neurotic to enjoy that for long. As soon as it was all over, my relief gave way to superstition: The last time we had a July hurricane? July 2005. And we all know how that season went. I went seamlessly from, “I’m sure glad that’s over” to “What if this is our Hurricane Cindy???!!!”
It’s going to be a long hurricane season, I guess, and also my neighborhood was much more severely affected by the thunderstorm on Wednesday, so I don’t even know the significance of that.
In the meantime, my neighbor and I invented a celebratory cocktail called the Barry Fizzle (apologies to Tim McNally) that consists of muddled blackBERRIES, bourbon, lime juice, mint, and soda water for a little bit of FIZZ.
I’m planning to drink them alllllll hurricane season. It’s not on my new weight loss plan, but it just might be the only way to stay sane.