That’s a question I keep asking myself over and over. Is is because the Army Corps of Engineers has stated that they’ll open the spillways north of here and “save New Orleans” from flooding, thus leaving us without anything to worry about? Absolutely not. No one from this area has a lick of confidence in the Army Corps of Engineers, and justifiably so.
Is it because we’re delusional? Maybe. A little, perhaps. Against all odds, I might add — who knows how people down here keep the faith and remain beacons of irrational optimism, but we somehow manage to.
Mainly though, I just think we’re tired of talking and thinking about tragedy. We’ve had too much of it in recent years. Hurricanes, oil spills, tornadoes…it’s just f*cking depressing, you know? Whenever I get together with friends from down here to watch Saints games, it’s not unusual that, at some point in the broadcast, the announcers will mention Katrina, and inevitably an audible groan will go up in the room. It’s like, we appreciate the fact that people remember, but we don’t want to talk about that sh*t anymore. (But then, of course, we get pissed when we feel neglected, when we feel like people are forgetting. Forgive us, for we’re all walking contradictions. New Orleans, and it’s people, are a paradox. Always and forever.) And so we compartmentalize the things that bother us, or have the potential to bother us, whether they’re in the past or looming over the horizon. We take a “we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it” attitude about things. For now, we don’t want anything to disturb the state of blissful ignorance we exist in while living in one of the great cities of the world at arguably the best time to ever live in it. In other words, we’re in denial. There’s an old joke about denial being a river in Egypt, and I suppose there’s another joke one can make about denial being a river running though New Orleans right now.
It dawned on me today that I haven’t mentioned a word about the Mississippi flooding in anything I’ve written online on Twitter, Tumblr, etc. I haven’t even cracked a joke about it. This hasn’t been a conscious effort, mind you, but a wholly subconscious one, apparently. It’s certainly been lurking in the back of my mind, but I’ve suppressed it. And I suspect all of the people I’ve talked to from around here in recent days who didn’t bring it up are doing the same thing.
Additionally, I’ve come thisclose to unfollowing people on Twitter and Tumblr who are talking about it incessantly. I can almost feel my blood pressure rising each time someone — again, usually people who live far from here — posts some freakout about New Orleans potentially flooding. It’s like I want to take them by the shoulders and shake them while screaming, “STOP MAKING ME THINK ABOUT THIS…THIS IS NOT THE TIME TO FREAK OUT…WHEN AND IF THAT TIME COMES I WILL FREAK OUT APPROPRIATELY, BUT UNTIL THEN SHUT THE F*CK UP!”
But this afternoon, for some reason, the ice seems to be breaking a bit. A friend walked over to the river from her office earlier, took the photo at the very top, and posted it to Twitter. Since I’m familiar with the very spot where she took it and know that the river usually isn’t that high there, it sort of slapped me across the face.
And then after lunch I received text messages from two single female friends seeking advice about what they should do, and just told them the truth: I honestly have no idea. I’m still trying to figure that out myself. Do I plan for the worst and start thinking about sandbags? (Oh God the mere thought of sandbags makes me want to punch myself in the nuts!) I’m actually supposed to go to New York next week. Do I cancel my flight and stay, or do I not pass up an opportunity to get the hell out and away from the potential mess. Jesus Christ I don’t want to have to think about these things. Does anybody? Decisions, decisions, so many decisions. And thus, this — me thinking out loud on the internet about something I refused to even contemplate to myself a few hours ago.