I MISS my sleepy little community of St. Rose, which I moved to because it was close enough to the city to get to everything but far enough away to escape the crowds.
Instead it's become a clog of traffic due to the multitude of displaced people who moved west, a place where groups of relief workers walk the streets at night. Having "relief workers" associated with our area sometimes makes me feel like I live in a Third World country.
I miss the view of my neighbors' lawns, instead of the view of their FEMA trailers. I'm sick of FEMA trailers.
I miss reasonable insurance rates, instead of rate hikes, more rate hikes, and insurance companies pulling out altogether.
I miss crowds at the mall. Although I loathe shopping, the mall shouldn't feel like a ghost town, and Home Depot shouldn't feel like Grand Central Station.
I miss Macy's, my doctors' offices, Charlie's Seafood, my favorite bookstore, the Wendy's near my office, and all the other places that haven't reopened since the storm.
I miss buying furniture and having it delivered in a week or two, instead of four months. I miss live theater at the beautiful old Saenger, and I wonder if anyone's going to reopen it.
I miss my co-worker's easy going personality, the one that made instant friends with every delivery man and salesperson who walked through the front door, the one that added life to our 2-person office. It's been replaced by depression, exhaustion, anger, and a deep desire to return to her own home and have nothing more to worry about than regular housework.
I miss running into old acquaintances and catching up on job and family situations, instead of hearing the inevitable, "So, how'd y'all make out?"
I miss looking forward to the holidays, instead of looking at the calendar, thinking, "Has it really been a year already?" and wishing the whole thing was over with.
I miss addressing Christmas cards to family and friends without wondering where they're living now and if the ones who stayed have postal delivery yet.
I miss relatives, friends, acquaintances, and co-workers who have relocated to parts far and wide, and I envy them, too.
I miss when the biggest thing to worry about in summer was the sweltering heat, stifling humidity, and mosquitoes carrying West Nile, instead of storms in the Gulf, evacuation plans, contraflow, and how to convince the in-laws to leave.
I miss picking up the paper or turning on the local TV station and finding regular news, instead of stories about FEMA, the Army Corps of Engineers, levee failures, the Road Back Home, and how the rest of the country is sick of putting up with our evacuees. I detest the word "evacuee".
I miss when driving on interstate through New Orleans East meant worrying about traffic and lunatic drivers, instead of wondering why it still looks like the storm just hit there yesterday.
I miss when Lakeview, St. Bernard, lower Plaquemines, and the 9th Ward were just places that I never really thought about.
I miss the New Orleans Hornets, instead of the New Orleans/Oklahoma City Hornets, which pisses me off for some reason.
I miss seeing the Superdome and the Convention Center as New Orleans landmarks, places for ball games, concerts, and conventions, instead of places where people begged for help, struggled for survival, and lost all hope, and I wonder if those pictures will ever leave my mind.
I miss going to the Mississippi Gulf Coast to relax, dreaming of retiring to a beach house, and I wonder if being near water will ever feel soothing to me again.
I miss telling people I'm from New Orleans and having them look at me with envy, instead of pity.
I miss when the nickname "The Big Easy" really did apply to the city. I miss when the name "Katrina" meant nothing to me.
I miss life before August 29, 2005.
I miss normal.
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