This Place

I clicked on a link last night to newly released videos of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. I hit play and felt my insides freeze. I could only watch a few seconds before I had to look away.

That black cloud of oil gush up left me with a rock in my stomach.

I didn’t live in New Orleans when Katrina brought her wrath on the city, but my family lived here and I watched the news and listened to reports knowing that there was nothing I could do.

I have this same feeling now.

I’ve avoided the news for the most part knowing that there is nothing I can do. I have felt strongly from the beginning that the people of this area will survive. They have already been through so much. I remember the days after Katrina, when buildings were boarded up, when everyone was an amateur contractor, and when we worried about what would become of our beloved city.

New Orleans is an amazing place these days–I’ll tell anyone who will listen about how exciting it is here. There is new blood in the city, but plenty of local flavor as well.

These people will be fine.

But now, I’m worried about the place.

Several times a week I cross the long bridge over Lake Pontchartrain. In the months after Charlie’s birth I remember those moments as slices of peace. The thunk, thunk, thunk of the wheels would lull my newborn to sleep and I could take a few minutes to enjoy the beauty of my hometown.

There were always, always Pelicans. Flying majestically next to the bridge, wings spread wide, floating in the air. They inspired me, kept me calm. There were a lot of bad days in the beginning–crossing that bridge I thought about shunt surgery and epilepsy. I cried and thought about my child’s future, my future.

But there were always the pelicans.

When I began painting, I painted pelicans. They reminded me of freedom. Their beautiful image became my own personal Phoenix and I saw them as the symbol of the city too.

The pelicans are gone.

Even the sea gulls are gone.

My symbol is gone. This place is not the same. I’m scared–not for the people, but for the place that I love.

**I want to add a little note here about people being “fine.” The people of Louisiana have hung on through sheer will–even at times when the rest of the nation questioned the value of this area. By fine, I mean that they will survive. This does not mean that they won’t suffer untold hardships. They will and they have. **

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Comments

  1. I did a debate about banning deep sea oil rigs just yesterday and this event was brought up a lot. Terrible stuff! I can't imagine what it's like to see wildlife disappear like that. I will be hoping that one day, the pelicans and seagulls will return, and your sense of hope and peace with them. I will also be hoping the place you love returns to its beautiful, oil free state as quickly as possible!

  2. aLmYbNeNr says:

    I know what you mean. :(
    The numbers are astonishing and this whole deal has made me feel sick too. I try to avoid news of it because not because I want to be ignorant but because it gives me that sense of helplessness and if hearing the numbers wasn't bad enough, seeing the underwater images and video was hell. I am so worried for the sea life and the marsh life and this thing just seems like it will never cease. That's foremost in my thoughts. The lesser thought I have (in prominence and importance) is the waste of all that oil. But foremost for me is the poor life that is being affected by this. I live in MD and I have even heard some reports that depending on currents and weather and their lack of ability to stop the gushing, the oil could spread all the way up here on the coast. Then I think about how impossible it seems to me that man can build tunnels under water, but it has been accomplished, so how come man can't stop this under water leak?!
    I have a BP gas card, have had it for years, because it's the most prominent station around my area. It's convenient since I commute a long distance. But I'm trying to avoid the place by borrowing my mother's Sam's Club card and going out of the way to get gas. I just can't bring myself to pull into a BP station. This is such a disaster.

  3. Kristen says:

    Oh it's so sad.

  4. Candace says:

    So terrible! It just seems like they aren't doing enough. So aweful what we do to our world and to ourselves!

  5. I don't watch the news reports about the spill if I can help it. But I was in a patient's room the other night and caught a bit of it. I wanted to cry.

    Reading this made me tear up too.

    I had a dream about you last night. Seriously, I was moving to Louisiana and was trying to figure out how far we'd live from each other.

  6. Wahzat Gayle says:

    sigh…
    what are we doing to our world?

  7. blogzilly says:

    I feel bad for Nawlins and for the rest of the country. This will sucker punch a slowly improving economy back onto the floor and cause massive devastation for years. Years. It's something that, to me, deserves prison time for heads of corporations that are responsible for this kind of thing.

  8. Oh Bird. I feel so sick about the whole thing. I'm in that field, and I feel like I'm watching a train wreck of epic proportions. I'm getting news updates all day about it, and it's just bad bad bad. Devastating. I don't have words, just a whole lot of commisery.

  9. ThePeachy1 says:

    As a resident of the MS Gulf Coast I appreciate your love for our coast and our animals and our people.. I took my son yesterday to the beach, reminded him to remember everything, the smell, the water, the animals, the feeling of the sun. I forgot to do all this before Katrina came, but I had to do it before the oil comes ..