By: E&P Staff
Chris Rose, a columnist for the Times-Picayune in New Orleans, has returned to what he calls “the remnants of home” in the city’s Uptown district. His column was posted this afternoon at the newspaper’s Web site.
The first time you see it … I don?t know. Where are the words?
I got to town Monday afternoon. I braced myself, not knowing how it would make me feel, not knowing how much it would make me hurt.
I found out that I am one of the lucky ones. High ground. With that comes gratitude and wonder and guilt. The Higher Powers have handed me my house and all my stuff and now what? What is there?
I live Uptown, where all the fancy-pants houses are and they?re all still here. Amid the devastation, they never looked so beautiful. They never looked more like hope. This swath of land is where this city will begin its recovery.
There are still homes and schools, playgrounds, stores, bars and restaurants. Not so many trees, I?m afraid. We?ll have to do something about that.
The Circle K near my house was looted, but there are still ample supplies of cigarettes and booze. They just took what they needed. The hardware store and Perlis – the preppy clothing store – same thing.
Someone kicked in the window at Shoefty, a high-end shoe boutique and what good a pair of Manolo Blahnik stilettos is going to do you right now, I don?t know. Idiots.
I myself was escorted out of the local Winn-Dixie by narcotics officers from Rusk County, Texas. I told them I thought it was OK to take what we need. ?And what do you need?? the supervisor asked me. I reached into my bag and held up a bottle of mouthwash.
I told him I will come back to this Winn-Dixie one day and pay for this bottle and I will. I swear it.
Right by the entrance to the store, there is a huge pile of unsold newspapers stacked up from the last day they were delivered, Sunday, Aug. 28. The Times-Picayune headline screams: KATRINA TAKES AIM.
Ain?t that the truth? Funny, though: The people you see here ? and there are many who stayed behind ? they never speak her name. She is the woman who done us wrong.
I had the strangest dream last night, and this is true: I dreamt I was reading an ad in the paper for a hurricane-relief benefit concert at Zephyr Stadium and the headliner act was Katrina and the Waves.
They had that peppy monster hit back in the ?80s, ?Walking on Sunshine,? the one they play on Claritin ads on TV and that almost seems funny in light of what happened.
Riding my bike, I searched out my favorite places, my comfort zones. I found that Tipitina?s is still there and that counts for something. Miss Mae?s and Dick & Jenny?s, ditto.
Domilise?s po-boy shop is intact, although the sign fell and shattered but the truth is, that sign needed to be replaced a long time ago.
I saw a dead guy on the front porch of a shotgun double on a working-class street and the only sound was wind chimes.
Everybody here has a dead guy story now. Everybody here will always be different.
I passed by the Valence Street Baptist Church and the fa?ade was ripped away and I walked in and stared at the altar amid broken stained glass and strewn Bibles and I got down on my knees and said thank you but why? why? why? and I?m not even anything close to Baptist.
It just seemed like a place to take shelter from the storm in my head.
The rockers on my neighbor?s front porch are undisturbed, like nothing ever happened. At my other neighbor?s house ? the ones who never take out their trash ? a million kitchen bags are still piled in the mound that?s always there and I never thought I?d be happy to see garbage, but I am.
Because it reminds me of my home.
I haven?t been down in the kill zone yet. I haven?t seen the waters. I haven?t been where all hope, life and property are lost.
I have only seen what I have seen and we took the hit and it is still here. This is where we?ll make our start. This is where we?ll make our stand.
And when everything gets back to normal ? whenever that may be ? I?m going to do what I?ve been putting off for a very long time and I?m going to walk next store and tell my neighbors that they really do need to start taking out their trash.