Saturday, August 29, 2015

Ten years ago...

Ten years ago, around this time of year, I decided that if I wanted anyone else to take me seriously as a writer, I would have to do it first. I set out to write a blog and publish my own work--since no one else was clamoring to do it. It wasn't so much a "blog" as a website upon which I posted weekly (or least monthly) an essay about "The world as I see it and make sense of it–or not– as the case may be." That was my clever tagline. Also around this time of year...maybe even today...ten years ago, Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans and I found myself writing my first post. It was as difficult to write then as it was to reread it today, but I'm re-posting it as a tribute to that day, that event and the memory of my college roommate Sue. Feel free to let me know what you think and thanks, as always, for your support. 

Miss New Orleans
Friday, September 02, 2005

The funniest things occur to me.
~ Feeling sad for the man who journaled all his life in Gulfport, Mississippi - whose journals just blew away.
~ Wondering how the babies are getting dry diapers.
~ Wondering if, after all these years, the city still looked the same before it was washed away.
~ Is the Morning Call still there?

I don't know how to process this disaster that is Katrina. As I did in September 2001, I watch and watch the TV and the film clips and the faces and the stories until I can't watch anymore. I want to cry, but I am afraid that if I start, I will never stop.

Those little faces. The children who are so sad and hungry and cold and wet. The parents who are helpless to care for them. The people who have been ripped from their families and wander with bloodshot, tear-filled eyes...just looking.

What can a woman in Connecticut do?

I want to offer warm beds, dry clothes, water by the gallons and long, long hot soapy showers and clean fresh towels. And lots of food. It's this emotional connection I have to New Orleans that makes me want to just go down there and help, even though I haven't been there in over 25 years.

My roommate in college, Sue, left our school in Texas to finish school in New Orleans. She was going to be a nurse. She might have been in New Orleans still when Katrina hit and ended up helping others had she not died 25 years ago helping one other. Only 22, she was out on the town with friends--fellow students--when a car pulled up beside them and grabbed her companion. Being Sue, she dove into the car after her friend and was instantly shot in the face. Fortunately, they both fell from the car to safety from the blast. Unfortunately, Sue died that very night.

One January, a couple of years earlier, I met Sue in New Orleans before classes started back for the semester. She took me on a real native tour of the city. We stayed off of the well-traveled paths and took the ones--well--less traveled. Down alleys and around corners. Through wrought iron gates and into tiny shops with no names above the doors. In one shop, I swear she knew the proprietor because it seems as they both conspired to get me to "try some of this perfume". Sniff! My face flushed as they both doubled over hysterical at my reaction. "What the hell...?" It was amyl funny...

Sue was Miss New Orleans that day. My ambassador to adventure, the wild side I never possessed. I never went back to the city after our tour. Not even when a bunch of girls went to celebrate Mardi Gras with Sue just a month before she died. Had I known I only had a month left to see her, I might have made an effort to go. But I was newly married and I stayed home and let my single friends go party it up in the Big Easy. And then she was gone.

I gave my daughter her name and invested New Orleans with her spirit. That way, whenever I heard anything about New Orleans, I thought of Sue--she was still around. Laughing at the silliest things, taking risks and dancing...always dancing. And this town that she held in the palm of her gone. Like Sue.

I miss New Orleans.

Suzanne 1958-1980


The world as I see it and make sense of it–or not– as the case may be. - See more at:
The world as I see it and make sense of it–or not– as the case may be. - See more at:
The world as I see it and make sense of it–or not– as the case may be. - See more at:
The world as I see it and make sense of it–or not– as the case may be. - See more at:

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