Three years ago, the Friday before Labor Day, I signed the papers on my house. Three years ago, the Saturday before Labor Day, I sat on my new front porch, without electricity or gas in the house, watching Hurricane Rita pound my new yard into a lake. Today, I'm typing this, waiting for Gustav to wreak havoc, just as Katrina and Rita did three years ago.
The more things change, the more they stay the same. My family has been getting phone calls from other family in New Orleans and in Houston; they're making contingency plans in case they need to flee (again). In Katrina, we lost a great uncle at St. Rita's Nursing Home. We nearly lost my father's sister, her husband, and their oldest son, our cousin. They were trapped in their attic when the levee broke down in Violet, LA. David, my cousin, takes medicine for seizures; he had to be air lifted to Lafayette with his mother. My uncle ended up in Texas. It took us a while to find everyone and bring them back together. I wouldn't be surprised to find out that many, many people still haven't been reunited with all of their family members.
I'm watching the skies and checking my hurricane tracking map regularly. I mowed the grass today because I wasn't sure when or if I'd be able to do it next week. Besides, it was knee-high (and I'm not kidding). I didn't have to mow it at all in July because of the drought, but the recent rains pushed it up. I don't mind doing it since I bought the riding mower last year. I can mow this near-acre quickly and meditate while I'm getting it done.
I was so looking forward to a two-day workweek (Well, really, I work every day. I mean I only had to go into the college two days a week). I was excited, because I could save on gas. This summer, I made maybe 10 trips to town because I taught on line.
This is what I get for being so smug. Our department has had two professors knocked off their feet--one because of a car accident and a seizure, the other because of an operation that needs a re-do. The department needed seven classes covered. Of course, I was asked to take one of them. And it's not a good idea, when you're on a year-to-year contract to say, "No." So, I said, "Yes." Now I will be driving into town four days a week, just as I did during the spring semester. Sigh! One day...
On the upside, when the college or university calls a meeting on a day I wasn't supposed to be on campus (usually on a Monday or Wednesday), I'll be going that way at some point anyway. And I do get paid a bit extra for the overload, which is nice. But, with five classes (two on line, four of them writing classes), I'm wondering when I'll have time to work at the bookstore (or sleep, even). But, I've done this before; I can do it again. And the grass doesn't need to be mowed in the winter, usually, so I can knock that chore off my list.
When I'm tempted to complain, I think about that day three years ago, when I sat on the porch of my new home and wondered if I'd ever see my New Orleans' relatives again. I'm grateful for what I have and what I can do.