Monday, May 17, 2010

Post-Diluvian Follies: Jiggety Jog

My final morning came. I stashed my mucky gear in the trunk of Annou’s thoroughly trashed little car; crammed the backseat with salvaged clothes, toiletries, and valuables; thanked Fay and Jeff and said good-bye to the kids; filled my coffee thermos one last time; and went on my way.

On Jefferson Avenue, a pile of flooded trash covered the neutral ground. Above it in a tree, someone had hung a water-stained poster of the Beatles spray-painted with the words “Let it be...”

I passed by my neighborhood one last time, past the gray cars and wavering water line, past the billboard (“…HOU SHALT NOT KILL”), then onto the highway among the debris-hauling trucks, west towards Texas. The battered buildings of downtown receded. I drove across the parish line, through the suburbs, back into the swamps, through the Monday morning traffic of Baton Rouge, further west through more swamps, through the still-battered wake of Rita, past the endless exits of Houston.
I reached the outskirts of Austin in the late afternoon, tracing the distantly remembered suburban streets. It seemed like ages. Everything was strange—very clean and very crowded with a curious absence of Humvees. Finally, I turned through the gate of the apartment complex and parked the little white car. The girls rushed out (they were on the mend) and eagerly hugged my legs. I had never been away so long—two weeks—and barely had a chance until that moment chance to realize how much I missed them. Sarah came out smiling and hugged me too, then stood back and gave me a funny look.


She hesitated.


“Well...... you smell.”

A final shower removed the lingering stench of the city. The passage of several days soothed my jangled nerves. The better part of two years restored our home. And perhaps, with many more years, the city may once again be made whole.

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