Thursday, August 27, 2009

A Thought for Thursday

Today is August 27th. For most people, unless it's your birthday or anniversary, it's just any old day in the peak of the hottest time of year. For me, it is the day we said goodbye to the New Orleans we always knew. It was on August 27, 2005, that after a long morning of volunteering in City Park with my accounting firm, Mark and I decided we should get a head start on evacuating just in case more people decided to leave on Sunday. At the time we decided to leave, we weren't really even worried about this storm they called Katrina. In fact, I sort of chuckled to myself when my friend and co-worker (who being from California was petrified of hurricanes) wasted no time and told us as we were packing up our volunteer supplies, that he was heading to Houston, he'd see us at work on Monday. Since you know how this story ends, it's not hard to realize that Monday never came. That was the last time I saw Kris - he didn't return to New Orleans.
A little shaken by his decision to leave, I think everyone else there that morning started thinking "Gosh, maybe we should go too??" So we went to the grocery (Robert's in Lakeview) and picked up water, flashlights, and snack foods, and we readied ourselves to head to New Iberia, LA where we figured we'd party for a couple of days with our gracious hosts, the Pellerins. We stopped by the house my parents had just purchased and tried to talk them into evacuating with us, but they were comfortable in just going to stay at a hotel downtown if things got too bad.

We straightened up the house a little. We put my wedding dress "high" on top of a dresser about six feet tall, and we pulled my VW Passat (my first car and graduation gift from my parents) a little further up in the driveway just in case there was street flooding. After all, my Uncle Sam's house had been through Betsy and it didn't flood, so we didn't have anything to worry about. Why take two cars - it only clutters the roads - that's what I told Mark that day. Just as we were about to leave, I joked with Mark "what if this was the big one?" I ran back in the house and grabbed our wedding albums and all of my handbags. Ha - if it does come and we don't have jobs, I could sell them off one by one I teased Mark.

We chatted and laughed as we drove through the streets of Lakeview and off on our little weekend getaway. I didn't look around. I didn't stop to cherish the memories I had made on the streets and in the homes of that quaint piece of heaven we call Lakeview. I didn't even notice driving by the home I had grown up in that my parents had just sold. I just sat in the car as my world went by and I didn't even see it.

And in the gut wrenching days that followed August 29th as we realized that our sweet Lakeview had been filled like a bowl with ten feet of water, I wished I had taken the time to really look around. I wished I had not taken for granted that the places I loved would be there when tomorrow came. And although four years later, Lakeview is on the mend, it is a different place. The streets that you knew like the back of your hand are lined with different homes. The pecan tree in the backyard of the house I grew up in that still had Mardi Gras beads in it from a game we played at my 8th birthday party called "throwing Mardi Gras beads into the pecan tree" is gone, as is the home itself. If I could only see it one more time. Just to really take it in. I would do anything for that.

So I guess my thought for this Thursday August 27th is not to walk aimlessly through your day. Enjoy every minute of it. Truly appreciate everything you see today that is something so normal you'd only know you missed it if it was gone tomorrow. Really see your world and all of the people and places in it.

Long Live Lakeview!


  1. Oh, that post made me tear up. It is sad how we all go about our daily lives barely noticing who or what is around us, not realizing that things could change in the blink of an eye. Great post!

  2. loved reading this jen! you really capture everything perfectly. it's so sad what happened.. but you're right... it's definitely a lesson to cherish every day. cant wait to see you soon!

  3. This was beautifully written. I can't imagine going through what you Louisianans (is that a word?) went through.

    You must be so thankful that you grabbed your wedding albums.

    You are right, though - we need to 'stop and smell the roses' and really experience our every day lives.



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