The past two weeks have been a sort of gray blur.
I’ve had a huge amount of work to do both at My Crummy Job and around the house, getting ready for the huge Labor Day bash. There have also been peripheral issues, a summer cold, emotional aches and pains and, of course, Hurricane Katrina.
The destruction of New Orleans is not a sharp pain for me. I have no relatives there, no roots. And although I’ve wanted to for years, I’ve never even been there. So, not a sharp pain. But the place is part of the soul of this country, the sweaty engine room of hot jazz and rock’n’roll, a mirage of dancing, laughing, singing and partying, a magical city where the laws of gravity seem not always to apply.
And when I see the mess that has become of that city, and I read and hear, day after day, of the chaos and suffering with no realistic end in sight, it just weighs me down. I can get through the days, of course, and so can the rest of us, but it feels to me as if the whole country has been harmed and saddened by this disaster. We can still laugh and sing, but everything is dampened a little by the specter of this tremendous loss. Maybe I am only imagining this, but it seems to me that everyone is at least a little down. Anyway, I know I am.
The entire city has been deserted. It will be rebuilt, of course. That’s what we do. We stand in the face of adversity, and build an even bigger edifice, just to show who’s boss. We’ll put up new buildings, pile up higher levees, grade new roads, dedicate new schools and talk a lot about the resilience and spirit of the place and its people. And one day in the future New Orleans will be a real city again, with a genuine past. But no one today will live long enough to see this. For us, what has happened is effectively permanent. The old city will now be folded into history.
Long may its legend live.