It’s been nearly two weeks since I left New Orleans. Two weeks since “Feels like home” was a wholly accurate appraisal of my surroundings. Two weeks since I awoke in the middle of the night to premonitions of an impending need to confess life, love, and liberty to the important persons in my life. Two weeks since I looked forward to the uncertainty of the future. Two weeks since the word “hurricane” conjured images of a drink best suited for people who aren’t planning to stand up quickly anytime soon. Just two weeks since I left the city that resonates at my very core. A lot can occur in two weeks. Consider this a variant form of a “two weeks notice” …
Apparently, finding a place to call “home away from my sweet home” wasn’t nearly as lengthy as I would have though. Sure, I’ve yet to replant a flag in the city of my birth and my soul’s contentment – but I’ve returned to some semblance of normalcy at least. Well, as “normal” as the Great State of Texas can be. Yes, I’m currently outside of the Houston metropolitan area. For the geographically inclined, I’d like to note that my arrival to Houston was by way of Baltimore. The following entries are about the 3000 mile journey to a city that was only 350 miles away (who knew maps could be upside-down?).
PRELUDE: Part I
The signs were there all around me. No, not The Weather Channel predictions or the years of research into the stability of the regional levee system. I’m talking about the subtle signs. Explicitness was reserved for the French Quarter bars, not the inner workings of actual clairvoyance. No, my signs were in songs and impulses, thoughts and feelings.
I awoke during the middle of the night two days before Katrina was scheduled to reach landfall. To be honest, if you had asked me then how I felt about “Katrina,” I’d have replied that I thought she was an amazing dancer and a very sweet girl that I’d like to see again some day. I had little idea that a hurricane was approaching my city. When one is set to put his life on track and be prepared for a fresh start after an emotional and academic slump, it seems that the only news that matters is conveyed by word-of-mouth and involves the return/exiling of persons/places/things/ideas and other assorted nouns that may help/hinder the process. With that said, I almost regret prioritizing shopping for clothes and apartment supplies over dropping a buck on the “NY Times.” Then again, even they weren’t aware of the severity ahead. Instead of learning about upcoming weather, I was focused on decorations: there was a Monday “Welcome-Back-to-School/Housewarming/AA-Relapse-athon” to plan as well as posters, dishes, alcohol, and clothes to buy. I had a rather busy little Saturday planned. I considered hitting Bed, Bath, and Beyond. Hell, if I had enough time, I planned to visit the “Beyond” section after years of only speculation. My list of things to accomplish before the final two of my four roommates arrived was extensive. Is it coincidence or irony that such anxiety managed to blow over?
The list wasn’t what woke me up that morning though. In fact, I wasn’t even inspired to lucidity by my recently-turned 20-year-old roommate’s drunken return from a night of crushing Nolan Ryan's strikeout records in a bar-setting (in his defense …um…I’ve got nothing. Sorry.)- face it, his game has been off. He's been putting up enough Ks to sponsor this Fall's Klan Konvention. Not even the recounting of his misadventures by the “designated thinker” of another roommate (who assisted him in true ‘wingman’ fashion) awoke me – they hadn’t even returned home yet. What stirred me to life was an eeriness within the pit of my stomach. I awoke only to recall images of pain and to feel the coldness of death and panic upon my forehead. I was instantly taken back to a memory of holding a loved one’s lukewarm hands when I immediately knew they had little time left to be concerned about body temperature. Thinking back to that moment, a moment where speechlessness was the social chasm that only emotions could fill, I awoke to pen something on a Post-It. I awoke to ensure that if I never had the chance to do so again, whoever found me there would know how I felt before I passed…would know what truly mattered to me in this life…would know whom I sincerely loved. I leapt from my bed and placed the note atop a small-sized journal. Scrawled atop the Post-It in wholly lucid fashion are the words “I truly love…” Inside the journal lay a list. Inside my chest Michael Flatley rehearsed his Lord of the Dance as beads of sweat ran down my forehead. Not that I needed assurance, but it became clear that I didn’t need Betty Ford and a coke-habit to awake from a terrible nightmare that closely mimicked my reality with my heart pounding. Of course, the fact that I moonlight as a Columbian drug kingpin and have a time-share at Betty Ford’s didn’t hurt my chances. My heart stopped racing after I settled back into bed. I managed to settle in and stare into the ceiling before finally falling asleep. It’d be over two days until I could manage the feat again. Hopefully, it’ll be less than two days until I can manage to post next.