Tomorrow marks 4 years since Hurricane Katrina made land fall. I’ve struggled thinking about what to do to mark the occasion, like I did for last week’s anniversary of my mother’s death (Needless to say, August, especially this last week, is particularly emotional for me.). I have a friend’s baby shower to go to. I remember thinking when I got the invitation, “Are they crazy? Do they know what day that is?” But maybe they did it on purpose to symbolize rebirth and renewal; life must go one. I imagine anyone who lived here 4 years ago must have August 29th burned in to their memory, unless they are in very deep denial. I’m glad it falls on a Saturday this year. It was odd the last 3 years to go to the office and work, just like it was any other day. But it wasn’t. Sure there are bell-ringings, plaque dedications and wreath layings across the city, but I couldn’t connect with that. The other day, a friend who had surgery a few months ago proclaimed that she was finally ready to go out and wanted to go to Rock ‘n’ Bowl. I pulled up the music calendar and saw that Kermit Ruffins was playing Saturday. Perfect.
After bouncing around from house to house to house in Baton Rouge the first few weeks of September 2005, we decided to head to Houston. We weren’t the only ones, many of our neighbors ended up there, as did Kermit Ruffins. He wrangled a weekly gig at a Jazz Club downtown and it when he played, it would be overrun by New Orleanians. We got there early and while waiting for friends and neighbors to arrive, got a drink and noticed a couple sitting across the room. The guy was wearing a huge gold Saints Jersey and Saints baseball cap and we took the table next to them. Turned out the women worked at my friend’s gallery in the quarter and they lived in Gentilly. When Kermit took the stage I started crying, wondering when I would be able to go back home and what would I be going home to. It felt good to have other New Orleanians around who understood what you were going through and could talk about it. I hugged neighbors I wouldn’t normally hug and let Kermit’s music and voice wash over me. The crowd stood around listening to the music, but when he broke out into “We are Family” everyone cut loose, dancing and singing along.