This weekend which was supposed to be about moving on and showing tens of thousands of visitors that New Orleans is back instead is now a hotbed of anxiety and fear. Our friends checked into the W last night having had their bags lost by Southwest and the desk clerk told them they have to be out today so we are picking them up to bring them over here this morning.
I hear the pounding of hammers nailing plywood to windows. The Home Depot on Carrolton is boarded up. Schools are closing. The Governor is not calling for a mandatory evacuation but already emails are circulating on our neighborhood group about who will stay and who won’t. People who are leaving are donating their food to those staying and in front of the Fairgrinds Coffee Shop there is supposed to be some cook outs.
Gustav is not even in the Gulf but he has snuck into our collective psyche down here. After leaving the boys to head to the Bourbon Pub last night (their greatest worry being no hair products in case they are on CNN for the storm), T and I dropped by 820 Rampart Street bar for a nightcap, a friend who lives down the bayou called to say they are not leaving – they had stayed for Katrina and left by boat from the American Can.
We’re unable to shake off the low grade anxiety that is gathering speed much as they say Gustav has gotten bigger and badder out there over the Caymans. Or will it be Hanna who threatens us? Every second that ticks by challenges New Orleans to rethink their status quo, their comfort zone, to reevaulate what is important (a neighbor is taking her favorite art work, another is taking jewelry) – we are taking our pets and mom (these are our treasures).
But for now, we wait.