September 10th, 2005

I Will Not Defame New Orleans.

Fête Macabre

My mom and aunt from California are at my aunt's in Virginia with me for the purpose of sorting through my grandparents' letters and photos that have cluttered the garage here since they died. It's a truly bizarre situation, sorting through hundred year old stuff, choosing what to keep, and trimming off the fat, all the while I'm wondering if I have anything left. A real have/have-not situation.

Last night I took a brief respite from spazzing out, emailing pet rescue places, and trying to figure out what the hell Ben and I are going to do with ourselves. I drove into Washington to Leila's beautiful childhood home behind the National Cathedral (incidentally, my old hood when I went to the American University four trillion years ago). The party was mostly her DC friends and family, but there were a handful of NOLA refugees. It was the first time I've seen home folks since I left merrily on holiday two weeks ago with considerably fewer cares in the world.

There are so many — hundreds even — people I've wondered, "Hey, what happened to X?" Like, say Sammi, my old Hideout regular.

"Oh, there he is!" it was answered when I went to Leila's last night. Apparently he was going to ride the storm out and Christopher forcibly dragged him into his car and took him to Alabama, then drove up to Washington yesterday.

It was nothing short of nourishing to see NOLA peeps, and Leila, in her inimitable partygirl way, made a tragedy a cause for celebration. But, though I drank my fill of Lambic and wine, it was a sobering night. I asked my friends, "So what are you going to do?" We laughed about it all. "Guess I have a job in Vermont." "Guess I'll stay here." "Guess this, guess that." But it was a harsh, rather forced kind of laughter. These people have a context, and a colonial house in the NW of DC is not where they belong. I want to take everyone home with me, put them back on their assigned barstools so we can all get on with our regular lives.

Lloyd Bridges' line from Airplane! has been on a sound-byte loop through my head for far too many days: "Guess I picked the wrong week to stop sniffing glue."

Today is my last day in Virginia. I have a number of awful days coming up, and then, just maybe, Ben and I can relax and wait out the reconstruction. Tomorrow I fly to Nashville to see Ben. I've never wanted to see anyone so much in my life. We're rarely separated, and never for two weeks, and on top of that, never under such distressing circumstances.

A couple of days there where we will quibble and compromise over what each of us wants to do for the forseeable future. Then on Wednesday, a flight to Baton Rouge, hopefully a ride to N.O. airport, hopefully the car will be functioning, hopefully we can drive into town, past the National Guards, hopefully the cats will be okay and the house intact, hopefully stuff will be left in the house that we can pack, hopefully we lock up and drive away unscathed. None of these are sure things.

A pitstop in Gonzales to pick up Rory's cat. (Michele and Rory were evacuated on a plane, not told their destination until they were airborn. "So, Milwaukee, huh Rory?" "Yah, it's okay. We found the bar.")

Then (perhaps, haven't settled on this quite yet) drive on up to Philly to invade the hospitality of the Rt. Hon. Rev. Rbt. M. "Boobalah" Price for X amount of months.

I would feel happy and secure being back in Philly, which is a town I know, and home to a few of my closest friends. But it's not all about me, is it. Ben also gets a say. So we'll see. Also flirting with Providence, Pittsburgh, Savannah, Amsterdam, Mars.

So much to be done.

So, so tired.