It's been a long and winding road, to borrow from the Beatles, and I'm finally home. Been here for a few days now. I will be LIVE and back to blogging and all my other crazy things now. I hope to have a new author interview in a few weeks, and a lot of other interesting things are coming up soon, too.
For now, I'd like to share my "coming home" feelings with you all.
After 2+ weeks in a shelter in Shreveport and about four or five days at the Holiday Inn in Bossier, I was finally able to come home. There was a huge part of me that wanted to go home because I had to. I knew that the house probably stank, and I wanted to clean my house and rest before school started back up, longer and more complicated and tiresome than ever.
The first thing that hit me when we made it to Lake Charles at midnight was the stench. Second, the darkness. I can't even begin to tell you how disgusting it smelled. It was as if all animals--on land and in sea--had died and was piled up to roast in the 100+ temps of Lake Chuck. Within a few minutes, my nose became immune to the smell; however, daily, I am reminded that the funk can get worse.
We drove to my friend's house first and then mine. The ride was an eye-opener. It had been three weeks, and I don't know why, but I expected to see "my" Lake Charles, but that LC is long gone. The road felt off, tilted, surreal. Trees jutted out into the road. Some lines were still down in various areas. At one stop light, I looked to my right and what greeted me was an 8-foot root of a tree that was tilted over onto a house. (Side note: would take a year to explain it, but I have a fear of "big things": huge flags, big bodies of water, airplanes, cruise/tanker boats, etc.) See something so huge right in my face gave me pause. I couldn't imagine the wind that would knock down such a formidable tree.
Signs from stores and restaurants were gone. Everything was closed because everything closes by 9...many by 8.
We were near my friend's house, and all I could think about was just how dark it was outside. Street lights were on, stars were in the sky, yet I had never seen it that black before as if life was zapped from our sky. The word "dark" can't be used to describe the vast nothingness that encompasses Lake Charles now.
Luckily, my friend's house was okay, and after we surveyed just about every nook and cranny of it, we made way to my house.
I was nervous and did not know why. My mom had stayed through the storm and had already been to the house to tell me that the house was in good condition and nothing was damaged except for the stinkiness of the fridge.
Despite knowing these things, my stomach tightened and my eyes grew heavy with tears. We reached my house and when I stepped out of the truck, I slipped on cement and rubble that had been chunked out of the sidewalk out front of my place. Something skipped in my chest and then stopped.
I went into the house and as my mom said, everything was okay. The fridge stinked, and I knew I would have a job to do over the next few days. I still could not get rid of the pain that consumed me and the tears that threatened to fall.
When I went back to the truck to retrieve my last bag, I looked at my friend, T, and she was like, "Are you crying, girl?" I tried to fake like I wasn't, but I was, and I have been just about every day since I've been back.
Why, you may ask? Well, I've been through a lot of stuff in my life. Stuff that books are made off, but I never had to run from my home and hope that it would be there when I returned. I never had to live in a shelter. I had never been reduced by some in society as merely an "evacuee" as if being one meant you were not human. I had never wished to be home, to be back in my life (for all its good and its bad) as much as I did when I was in the shelter. And then I returned and I saw the trees on houses. The signs of my favorite restaurants gone. A casino boat up on land. Smaller boats piled up like cards in a deck. Stench that made you think death might be better than smelling it. Darkness that envelops a sky, wraps around you, and makes you feel as empty as it is.
I'm home, but it doesn't feel like my home. Not anymore. I can only hope that through the upcoming weeks, months, even years, we grow and move into a Lake Charles that is even better than the place I came to and learned to love over four years ago.