Thursday, January 14, 2010


Woke at 5:30 to the hydraulic alarm of the garbage truck. Can scraping on the sidewalk, garbage tumbling, thunking, close and crush and grind. I used to hear the workers shouting, years ago back in the Quarter. They are not vocal now, here.

I remember one day, walking with two pretty friends on Royal, near CC's, Fifi Mahoney's, the galleries. A garbage collector shouted to us, as he tossed cans and leapt from sidewalk to running board, not politely but with admiration. Obscenely flattering, let us say. One friend was haughty. "He thinks we'd go out with a garbage collecter?" "At least he has a job," the other said.

One flood-infused item I have held onto the past four plus years is on its way now, to the dump or wherever the can contents go. (I should find out just where they go, shouldn't I? It doesn't seem quite ethical not to know, and besides my son will soon be asking.) A wool and satin Irish cloak, from the pre-Seinfeld and pre-corporate buyout J. Peterman. A birthday gift from my mother one winter back in college. Way back in college. It was soaked in the post-K floods and marinated in sludge and heat for six weeks, until look and leave. I looked and cried and didn't leave, not immediately. Most of the soaked and molded items were bagged up, by me, by a couple of kind acquaintances, by my future husband. Mostly by me. The Irish cloak I kept, hoping. It was dry cleaned twice in evacuation Austin. No good. Reeked of flood, sludge, cat piss, mold. That particular knock-you-on-you-ass smell that met each of us who came back with a floodline marked door to open. I tried cold water gentle cycle in the washing machine. Once, twice, three times. Still the flood smell. Dried it in the hot Texas sunshine. Flood smell still. Stuffed it in yet another big black garbage bag, tied the whole thing shut, stuck it on a garage shelf (Austin has garages), and forgot about it. Brought it back eventually in the POD. Finally worked up to opening the bag again last week. Washed again, herbal laundry soap, triple rinses, more sunshine, dim and wintery though it was. Still the flood smell.

Good-bye handmade embarrassingly expensive wool and satin Irish quilt that was an impulse gift from my mother once upon a time when I was young. I enjoyed you. I miss you. But you smell like the flood.

1 comment:

  1. I had a long cape that was ruined in Katrina. I didn't try to salvage it. I guess I should of at least tried.

    It's strange, but many things in my attic are taking on that flood smell--probably from all the books that I have up there.