I'm not the praying kind. I support others who find solace or hope in prayer, but my own relationship with God is a little more loosey-goosey. That said, I prayed my ass off this weekend, as I watched Gustav roll in, and then roll by. I'm a landlocked Canadian, but my heart was in NO these past few days.
I'd meant to spend the weekend updating my Etsy store, working on the muslin for The Big Dress, and generally goofing off. As it turned out, I did a lot of goofing off, but not the sewing related kind.
The Hotness took his first weekend off since March. I'm not kidding; with the exception of a quick camping trip with his family back at the beginning of July, The Hotness hasn't taken a single day completely off since March. To celebrate his at-home-ness (yeah, I made it up, but Erin from A Dress A Day said it's okay
) we rented some games and movies, and just hung out.
Except secretly, while we were hanging out, I was making surreptitious trips to my computer to see if there were any updates on Gustav
My interest is kind of personal. See, back in June of 1995, an opportunity arose for me to buy a ridiculously cheap plane ticket from Edmonton, Alberta to Houston, TX. Without giving it a great deal of thought, I simply bought the tickets, and hoped I'd be able to get the time off work.
At the time, I was in the military, and I had some extra leave time accumulated. I calculated that if I didn't take any more, I'd have just enough so that I could take a good portion of December off. By the time December finally rolled around, I had a freshly-broken heart and only a vague idea of what I would do during my trip.
I drove down the Gulf coast to Brownsville, via Corpus Christie and Kingsville NAS. I was raised on the Pacific coast, so I was used to sea air and lush greenery in the middle of winter, but I was unprepared for the difference in the quality of the sunlight, which made the crops look greener, and the water, bluer.
After a day in Brownsville, I swung up to Laredo, then over to San Antonio, and I have to tell you, in all the days I spent in Texas, I didn't encounter a single unfriendly face. Plus, I ate like it was going out of style; Texas beef, BBQ, seafood, Tex-Mex, you name it, I ate it.
Originally, I'd planned on spending the entire time in Texas, but partway through the trip, I heard the song "Calling Baton Rouge" while eating dinner in some mom and pop restaurant, and decided to go check it out, and maybe hit New Orleans.
I left early the next morning, spent a couple of hours wandering around Baton Rouge, then hopped in the car and headed to NO. By the time I hit that little stretch of I10 that runs along the edge of the Ponchartrain, I was fizzing with excitement.
I've never met a more friendly group of people than those who helped me try to break into my rental car in the Shoney's parking lot that first night. No word of a lie, about 20 people gathered around my car, cheering me on, offering to give the coat hanger a tug for me. Including two NOPD officers who were called in because of the large crowd, and ended up also being unable to break into that infernal car.
In the end, a group of six young folks (my age at the time, I guess, early 20's)came outside and cheerily insisted that I eat dinner with them while one of the girls called her sister, who happened to be a locksmith. I explained that I couldn't eat dinner, because I'd locked my keys in the trunk with my purse. They laughed at me and led me inside, while the NOPD officers broke up the rest of the crowd and went on their way. That group of six fed me until I was ready to burst, and when the girl's sister finally arrived and freed my purse and keys, nobody would take a dime, or even to allow me to chip in for the massive dinner we'd consumed.
The next morning, I got up early and went straight to the French Quarter, where I ate beignets and drank strong, black coffee at the Cafe Du Monde, then, struck out to take pictures and see what I could see, and in three days, I managed to see an awful lot.
Then, it was back to Texas, with three pounds of fudge in my car from a place in the Riverwalk mall, which I intended to bring home to share with family, but which never even made it into the state of Texas before being consumed.
I came back from that trip tired, sick with the flu (and probably an overdose of fudge), and convinced that I'd see the Gulf Coast again, and soon. Somehow, though, I never made it back.
The long and short of it is, I fell in love with Texas and Louisiana, and I was incredibly upset when Katrina hit. Along with millions of others, I watched with horror as pictures of places I visited flashed on the screen, filled with churning waters.
It broke my heart to think of the group of six, and those NOPD officers who'd been so kind to me 10 years before, and all those wonderful Texans I'd met along the Gulf Coast.
I hope they made it through Katrina, and I'm very glad that Gustav treated New Orleans a little more gently.