Thursday, December 01, 2005

To give you an idea of what we live with still...

People are always asking me if life here is back to normal yet. Surely, here on the north side of the lake where there was not as much devastation as in New Orleans, things are back to normal! Well, it is 8:35 am. Let me tell you about my day so far.

I got up and got ready for work. I live about 3 miles from the college where I teach, and the trip takes me 5-7 minutes. Well, I was about 2 minutes from work, on River Road, the little road the college is on, when I saw up ahead a lot of trucks and a big machine moving debris from the side of the road and loading it into the truck. There was no warning. They were just there. There were a number of other vehicles lined up along the road in front of me, but they were all trucks of workers involved in the project. I waited a couple minutes, but as there was no workman on my side of the work, no one knew I was there. Now, I have waited as much as 15 minutes for these guys to finish loading a truck before they let cars pass. I have also waited 15 minutes and still not seen any sign that they were going to let cars pass, so I have turned around and gone another way. I chose to leave after just a couple minutes today because it was pretty obvious they had a long ways to go before the truck would be filled. So I backed up, turned around and went back towards home. I had to wait a couple minutes to get back onto the highway because of all the traffic. Finally I was able to get on the highway and get to an alternate way to get to school. Everything was going well. I got back to River Road the college was on, or almost to it, when I saw a big truck -- a semi tractor pulling probably a 30 foot trailer that was built up to carry storm debris. I was on River Road and wanted to turn onto the road I was on. Now, you have to understand that these are not real roads. Two cars can pass on them, but there is no shoulder, so passing a truck that big requires caution. I waited and let the truck begin his turn -- because he gave no sign of waiting for me to do anything else. The turn is not a normal 90 degree turn but, from the side he was on, probably about 75 degrees. And there is, of course, a power pole right on the corner. He could not make it in one try or even two or even three. Finally, he recognized the fact that the truck would have to be perfectly positioned on River Road before it could hope to turn onto the smaller road I was on. So he played around and got the truck back on River Road. After a bit longer, he backed up enough to clear the intersection, and I was finally able to turn onto River Road and get to work. All this took about 30 minutes.

So, while I now have Internet at home, life is hardly normal. Or at least I hope this isn't normal. I am really tired of it. In all honesty, I think they should declare a moratorium on debris pick-up over here. That would help me get back to normal more than having all the debris picked up will. This formerly heavily wooded area will never be back to normal in my lifetime. All we can do is try to make life as easy on us as it can be.

Sometimes I think people who have evacuated feel that they are suffering more than those of us who are here now are. They feel a loss of community and experience a lot of nostalgia for how things used to be. They do not, however, have to deal with the fact that nothing works yet. Nothing. We may have the basic services, but we don't get the bills on time or we don't get them at all or they are totally wrong. Everything is a battle.

I didn't sleep well last night, and that may account for some of this, but my tiredness is deeper than lack of a good night's sleep. I am tired of the struggle that life here is now.

My friend Melanie wrote
I wish I could remember being light-hearted and happy, feeling attractive, being fun and flirtatious. I've gotten so old-hearted lately. I've lost my mirth. And I don't know how to retrieve it. Is innocence and joy ruined?
I understand completely. There is a heaviness in all of us that doesn't seem to want to go away.

So this is my life for now. I don't expect you to really be able to understand because I don't even, really. But I wanted to try to explain anyway. Thanks for listening.

1 comment:

Sarolta said...

Dear Nancy, I’m sorry things are as they are in your part of the world, and that there’s so much suffering and struggle going on in your life.You’re absolutely right, we can’t even imagine what it feels like.
Life as it used to be is not something that would come after a sleepless night or a number of sleepless nights. It’s a long struggle. Change comes in drops. Please don’t lose courage. Things will change for the better. I don’t know when or how, but I’m sure better times will come. I’ll be here for you in the meantime. If there’s anything I can do to help, let me know. I mean it.