Tuesday, October 9, 2007

As my thoughts return to New Orleans...

I'm not really the type to revisit old journal entries, but I was looking for early images of my dreadlocks, and came across this post of a journal entry I wrote while doing relief work in New Orleans in 2006. It seems like centuries ago, and I look at these images and can't believe I took them. As I may have mentioned before, as of recently I'm the fund raising chair for the New Paltz chapter of Habitat for Humanity, and our spring Collegiate Challenge is in New Orleans.


Originially posted on Robin Reads in February 2006, upon my return from New Orleans:

Note: This is my personal journal. Typically I wouldn't share writing like this with you all, so please keep that in mind. I've typed it up exactly as I wrote it. I feel like this is something I'm obligated to share with you all, it's an experience that needs to be shared.

January 23rd, 2006

“What others have said is incomplete.” (Writing prompt) Their stories lacked the tangible disbelief one must feel upon viewing this catastrophe. Part of me is angry, feeling foolish for not being prepared, angry no one told me what to expect. I understand that they tried, even now I can’t put to words the horror and disgust I felt watching my classmates rooting about, exclaiming over something they’d found, surrounded by people’s scattered, broken lives, yet still able to laugh and interact. All I could do was cry. I didn’t want to; I wanted to be able to look on this situation as one looks on to a car accident, with morbid curiosity. I wanted the blessing of being able to distance myself from these people, these sights. I was granted no such thing. Instead photos were peeled apart, salvaged, though destroyed, from a heap of mud and scattered memories. “My grandchildren” she said, bringing me back to an earlier conversation with a 4th grade girl. “Where’s your favorite place in the city?” I asked. “My grandmother’s house, before it was destroyed.”

I’m finding it difficult to hold on to thoughts. I can’t keep my mind still long enough to capture what I think and feel, and writing about it takes the mental strength of a wrestler, pinning words to the page. I lack the graceful ability to mold prose into exactly the phrases I mean to express. It is a terrifying experience to be completely at the mercy of my emotions.

Hundreds of unoccupied FEMA trailers: Bureaucracy at its best.

Flood Damage as far as the eye can see.

Dirt and rubble piled along the streets.

Crushed by debris and water.


1 comment:

BetteJo said...

I think you DO have the grace to bring your emotions to life on paper. Not being there or seeing it first hand - I know I have no real comprehension of what happened and what people went through down there. It was so huge - it was surreal.
It's a wonderful thing that you went - I'm sure there are parts of that experience that will influence you forever. :)


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