Banos Familia

A place to gather events, ideas and family...all in one place, while we are far away

Monday, October 03, 2005

Thoughts from Richmond

I went into New Orleans today, to help my brother in law clean what he
could out of his basement. There wasn't much. Almost everything was
destroyed-- ravaged so expertly it almost looked like the product of
intentional malice. He and my sister had just got the house together
in anticipation of Lucy, my niece. It's a beautiful place, and it will
be again. But it's going to take a lot of work. Just getting Chris and
Julie's refrigerator out of the house and out to the curb required the
work of several fragrant hours and many of the tools on my Leatherman.
We saw a convoy of Humvees careening up State Street Drive, a
succession of Huey helicopters buzzing overhead every couple of
minutes. We saw not one house that hadn't been touched by the storm.
Piles of garbage and debris everywhere. And we heard a new typical New
Orleans question repeated over and over again: "You get any water,
dawlin'? How 'bout ya mom enem-- they get any water?" Where Julie and
Christian were, everyone got water. Lots of it.
Everthing was just a little bit off. Cooter Brown's was packed, as it
always is on Sunday-- even when it isn't the only place open-- and I
saw lots of the people I grew up with, drinking the same beer. But
their greetings were more relieved, their smiles more wan. And the
Saints, all over every TV, were playing in San Antonio. My dad and
Christian and Austin and I drank our Abita Ambers and pretended for a
moment like things were getting back to normal, but that's a long way
I try not to think about it very much but the magnitude of the city's
loss breaks my heart, and when I see the looks on Julie and
Christian's faces when they see the destruction in the house they
assembled so carefully, I want to cry. But I want to cry at a lot of
things recently. Mostly when I see the determination people have to
endure hardship and rebuild their homes, but particularly when the
strain and the weariness and the deep sadness shows on their faces and
they continue on anyway.
Next weekend I'll be back again, to start taking bashing down
sheetrock and cleaning all the toxic, foul--smelling ooze from Chris
and Julie's basement. It's time, it seems, to get to work.
Here are some pictures from the day:
Hope everyone's well.


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