Saturday, February 13, 2010

Dat Mayor

The weather is cold. We won the Superbowl. We have a new mayor.

I found this scan on an old disk. The original went with the flood.

BabyBoy asks me about the picture. I try to explain to him, about the mayor, the city, a leader. That we're trying a new one.

"Dat mayor old," he says, pointing.

Husband wants to know who the guy is, to the non-mayoral side of me. Naturally. (Naturally said naturally here, sans sarcasm.) He is my old friend Chris (dat friend old?) who invited me once to the Press Club Awards banquet. He was dressed here as his character, Citizen Numa, after performing for the tippling crowd.

Back to the mayor.

I remember the moment, in evacuation Austin, watching future Husband's television, hearing CNN reporter Jeanne Meserve crying as she described what she was seeing in the Lower Ninth Ward. Her stories were the first to say, wait, no, New Orleans did not get lucky, people are drowning out here, hanging onto phone polls, screaming from rooftops, trapped in attics with water to the chin and baby and cellphone held above. Dogs are tangled in live electric wires. Fuel fires shooting out of the water, people screaming, it is night now, too dark to find anyone, to dark to navigate, it is devastating, it is hell.

To read a transcript of Ms. Meserve's report, go here and scroll down.

I felt frozen, wondering was happening to my neighbors in Holy Cross. Thinking I should have stopped my car and invited the elderly hip-swinging crack ho in her hot pink curlers, from down the block, when she waved so jauntily to me and my dachshunds as I drove off.

And the Mayor, live on radio, fierce, brave, raging for New Orleans and its people:

"Don't tell me 40,000 people are coming here. They're not here. It's too doggone late. Now get off your asses and do something, and let's fix the biggest goddamn crisis in the history of this country."
From CNN's "Mayor to Feds: Get Off Your Asses"

I thought then that he could be a hero, could do anything, that maybe someday he'd even be president. I didn't know yet about the parked busses, the refused Am Track cars, and more such. But the biggest disappointment was seeing him go into a room with W days later and come out idiotized.

Remembering those days and months after the evacuation, the flood, the horror and enormity, the reality of it, is still painful. I will make hot chocolate, breathe deep, and watch nap dreams flicker on the sweet face of my hurricane gift, my BabyBoy.


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