Bongo Java is the coffee shop where A and I basically lived during our time in Nashville after Katrina. Sitting here today, it is a painfully familiar spot.
All A and I can talk about this week is how to be better evacuators. Because this time around has been, I’m going to go ahead and say it, was totally fucking miserable. There are several layers to why this has been true.
1. Automotive ridiculousness. Look, cars are fickle things. But, especially when they have over 200,000 miles on them. We spent the week leading up to the evacuation in various states of distress over this, especially since our “nice” car (read: AC) had a battery/alternator problem suddenly cropping up. And the thing is? We’re not stupid. We’ve been worrying about this eventuality all summer. We’ve been arguing over Hondas and Scions for months. In the end, we basically just decided to close our eyes and cross and fingers that please, please, pretty please, we could make it through one more hurricane season on the junkers.
This didn’t turn out so well for us. We decided to try to beat the odds by evacuating in both cars, which meant we braved the drive solo. I spent all 12 hours on the edge of total panic. It was a large and unwieldy kind of panic, but, in short, I was scared of having another seizure. Every time we stopped, I’d realize that my hands were shaking and my knees were noodles. It was dark and rainy and ridiculously long, so it was no picnic for A, either — or anyone who shared the road with us, I’m sure. Topping all of this off a constant, and quite legitimate (we did spring a major coolant leak on day 2, but A caught it in time and was able to make the repair, because he’s a hero), fear of one of the cars breaking down was too much.
2. Animals. The biggest problem with animals is that not everyone likes them. We have decided it would be much easier to evacuate with a baby, because everyone wants to see your baby, while nobody wants to see your stinky cats and dogs. My dad is allergic to dander, and my brother and his family are allergic to barking, so we’ve spent the last few days drifting from pet-friendly hotels to neighbors houses to, finally, now that it is neither Sunday nor Labor Day, to the kennel. In the process, we have spent roughly nine million dollars.
3. Evacuating just plain old sucks balls. Even though sometimes I think the world would be a easy place for us if we just had a brand new car, this is not actually true. We accept that this is part of the New Orleans package, inasmuch as we don’t think anyone needs to feel particularly sorry for us. (I feel PLENTY sorry for myself.) Our list of ways to make things better has some great ideas that will definitely help, but also, it is just a pain in the ass period. You make the best of it that you can, and then you take a deep breath and power through the rest.
And, now. Here’s a pic of the welcome wagon our niece laid out for us, which made both of us cry. The moment I saw this was the first (and only, so far) moment that I felt what all New Orleanians are hoping to feel these days: relieved.