Katrina + 2

All through the Memphis airport was the headline: Katrina + 2. Not that the Memphis news needed to give a reminder. I having been looking back to August 2005 for weeks, reading about the things were doing then… Will’s exploration of our neighborhood, Paul’s refinishing a hanging door, my intense summer of MLE and hierarchal models. The days seem innocent and disconnected, so different from the gritty realities that we so causally discuss now (“maybe we should keep the back door without stairs since so many break-ins are occurring from back doors being kicked in?”) I’d wanted to write something, not necessarily of great significance, but just something to remember that day, two years ago, when everything changed.

But this year, a slew of things came unexpectedly and blew us all over the Eastern seaboard in under 24 hours… so writing about It didn’t happen yesterday.

Years ago, I worked in crisis counseling (sexual assault and violence). A call coming in at anytime to meet someone of just about any age and be the calm in the midst of disaster. Despite the horrific situations and details beyond the scope of what a normal person can even stand to hear; I could hear it, keep it together and be there professionally and on some level, personally. Ultimately, it wasn’t the details I wanted… the important stuff was the work of emotions. Later, these things would affect me. I would fall apart during the 30 minute ride home through the mountains, listening to irresistibly happy music (Sesame Street, They Might Be Giants) to help brush it off. After less than a year of work, I stopped crying during the drive home — which is when I knew I needed a new profession.

It took me months to understand that our lives had been changed by Katrina. Months. I problem solved and worked in crisis mode and shaped our lives accordingly. After bouncing around in the immediate weeks, we settled in at my parents house and Paul continued to work; his profession became a magic source of stability. I found out I was pregnant with Kate the day we evacuated and became fixated on completing my timetable of requirements, passing my comprehensive exams, and keeping up with all pre-Katrina plans. Remaining solid with the program was an obsession. Maybe I was worried that any lag time would be attributed to my being a Mother? (Feelings which are not unwarranted.) It didn’t occur to me that everyone’s lives were now different, that everything was different.

Nothing else crossed my mind. Life was an overwhelming combination of studying and raising Will. Then around April of 2006, I was driving through the then familiar blinking stoplights, when it hit me. REALLY hit me. It took that long for the logical and emotional reactions to meet in reality. There wasn’t an epiphany, just a realization that it was okay for me to be feeling lost and misdirected. It was okay to abandon pre-Katrina plans, and to let myself be changed by the new, post-Katrina world around me. Just like that, previous plans were forgotten and we opened ourselves to the true possibilities of our lives here.

And that’s where we are in + 2.