Saturday, September 03, 2005

Back from the bottom

The trip to Hattiesburg was notable only because of the unmistakable presence of the military. Armored trucks. Jeeps. Hummers. Personell carriers. With almost as much hardware flying overhead, heading to Kessler and Gulfport International. An invasion of relief creeping south. And armed soldiers taking the place of every traffic light. By armed I mean: machine guns slung across their backs. Full on martial law as far as the eye can see.

Fortunately they all let me pass and I found my way to Aunt Judy's house, where I slept the sleep of the dead for nearly twelve hours.

In the morning, Cindy and Judy and Terry and Logan filled the van with tools and supplies, then headed to Gulfport, to help Glenda. They left me with the kids. We spent hours hugging and playing. I soaked up the air conditioner. And caught up on the news. The rest of the day was utterly uneventful. Completely boring. Stress-less. Just what I needed to decompress.

I've collected some thoughts today. Just ideas and events that I want to write down before I lose them:
  • I watched TV today and if there is anything I could tell the world, it is this: I am not a victim of Katrina. I am not an evacuee. I do not want a "hand out." I am a single survivor among hundreds of thousands, if not millions. I only want aide enough to get some normalcy in my life, for me and my family. Once we're able to fend for ourselves, we will all be fine. In the meanwhile I'm thankful for anything and everything that helps us recover any piece of our life.

  • I saw New Orleans on the news. I saw the "victims" as they sat there and waited to be rescued. Thousands upon thousands of able-bodied people screaming for hours that they wanted food. They wanted water. They wanted somebody to come take them away. They blamed the city for not being ready. They blamed the government for not being prepared. They blamed the military for taking too long. Rather than doing anything for themselves, they spent hours doing nothing but placing blame and demanding help.

  • If there is one other thing I can tell the world: New Orleans is an embarrassment to me. I do not know anyone like the people there that you are constantly seeing on the television. I know and have met hundreds and thousands of people since the storm who are doing everything they can for themselves. The people I know have not stopped to ask for help. They do not blame anyone for what happened to them. They do not expect anyone to prop them up. And I wish you could see the real face of the other survivors. We are all embarrassed by what you see and we are sorry that the media has focused their constant attention on on such a mis-characterization of the people affected by Katrina. Please don't put us in the same light with them. We aren't cut from the same cloth as those folks.

  • I forgot to mention my Wound Of The Day, yesterday. I crushed most of my fingers. We were taking supplies to my grandparents and I was manually closing the garage door (which tells our neighbors that we are not home) and I didn't realize the gaps between the individual pieces of the door were going to snap closed as I lowered the door. I heard the sound of my fingers crunching like wet pieces of celery. And then the pain buckled my knees. Profanity not fit for writing came spewed from my mouth. And I cried out for my father to save me. Pleaded for him to push the door up. To free me from the teeth that were biting into my fingers. But it was my mother who rescued me. Dad never even turned around to see what was happening. Likely the deaf old man didn't hear my anguish. But Mom did. Even though I didn't call her. And she didn't let me forgot who rescued me and who ignored me, for hours. In the car, I told her I thought all my fingernails were going to come off (from the look of the blood bruises I could see forming. ) She thought I was babbling about having to cut off all my fingers And she won't let me live that down, either.

  • I try not to mention how angry I really am. If it seeps through into my writings, I apologize. But, I'm constantly beating myself. Constantly angry. And not just because of the lack of sleep and lack of excitement. A week ago, I left behind a four bed room house with a full basement and a six figure income. Not quite the move I thought it would be. Not by a long shot. I put off relocating for more than two years. Why didn't I wait one more week? I expected to give up a few of the amenities of living in Atlanta, but I didn't expect to be reduced to living in the middle ages. Let me summarize this way: DAMN! DAMN! DAMN!

  • The President took a tour of the Coast, the day after we saw the helicopters. Nice of him to take time out from his victories in Iraq to come see the remains of our battles with Katrina. He spends a billion dollars a week to bring democracy to the Middle East. I'm very interested to see what he can do to bring relief to the Gulf Coast. I hope he seizes the opportunity and devotes as much time and effort to us as he has the citizens of Iraq.

  • Jason and Mel are going to Alabama, to visit relatives there for a while. Aside from the time he helped keep me alive on Dad's roof and some help he gave on Doe's roof, we haven't seen them much. I think they're with Mel's mother.

  • I really have no idea what is going on with Cindy. What she is thinking. What she wants to do. She's asked me for answers a couple of times. I have none. Nothing other than constantly moving toward a normal life for us and the kids. I don't know what it will take to get us there, but that's what I want to do. I don't have to mention who is responsible for our move down here, who hounded me for two years to leave Atlanta.
I'm going to fix dinner for the kids, wait for Cindy to come home, and see where we are going from here. Then I'm going to sleep, again, and try to mentally prepare for the adventures to come.

I hope it can only go up from here. If I haven't seen the bottom, yet, I don't want to.
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