Monthly Archives: September 2008

Out of sync

In some ways, I’ve hardly been touched by the hurricane. I feel more buffeted by this last week on Wall Street than I do by two weeks ago when Ike blew in. My roof stayed on. Will I have a roof if the bailout doesn’t work? We cleaned up tons of tree debris. Who can clean up the oceans of bad debt, bad decisions, and lack of responsibility on everyone’s part?

The news on Galveston and Boliver and parts around there is bad. I hear that national coverage is nil or none. Too bad. There is so much ruined and gone. Texas’s most historic city is crushed right now: no water, no utilities, no school. What’s standing is full of water and mold. There’s a lot that isn’t standing, the old Balinese room, for one, home to long ago glamour and gambling and prostitution days. It jutted on piers way out into the water, the reason being that when police raided, there was time to hide the evidence of illegal gambling before police could walk the distance they needed to. Some 600 people are missing, ones who decided to ride out the storm or couldn’t get out in time. 

Developers are already talking about rebuilding. Newer structures on the beach held. But there will be a fight over beaches because Texas’s are shrinking. I feel tired, out of sync, to be writing every day about the 17th century when so much drama is occurring outside my door. We haven’t gotten in the car to go toward the coast and look. It feels too intrusive. My neighbor, who helped a friend check on her three houses behind the seawall said it made him sick to see the island. It was such a shock, he said, boats tossed up along the highway, waist-high trash, refrigerators, insulation, boards, trash as far as the eye can see. It’s hot (Ike sucked up all the rain) and the mosquitoes are out full force. I dreamed about being in a little boat motoring along the water to look at the destruction. A man called out to us to save a huge wisteria that was under water along with its house. Katrina, I thought, and didn’t help.

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Stomped on us and gone

Hurricane Ike has stomped on us and gone. Our little Gulf Coast, with its brown sand and tar and small dunes and grainy water, is smashed, reeling. Coastal communities–the places we in Houston jumped in a car to go down to so we could  eat shrimp or walk barefoot in the waves or sit and watch gulls–are devastated. Kemah, Surfside, Port Boliver, Crystal Beach, Gilchrist, Seabrook, and the big island, once the grandest city in Texas, Galveston. 

Houston will rebuild. We’re big, we’re well to do, we’re not on the coast. We lost power, roofs, some of our precious trees, but we were lucky. Ike just spit at us as he blew down or drowned the coast. It was frightening to sit through a night of howling, high wind, and rain, but we didn’t flood. I didn’t lose a single of my eight big trees. But again, Ike’s winds were a 2. A category 3 or 4, and Houston will hurt as much as the coast is. I drank coffee on a neighbor’s front porch, ate tuna sandwiches in another’s gazebo. Without power, everyone walked. We said hello. We helped clean up debris. We loaned and borrowed. We sweated, got tired of the dark, missed news and internet, but we are ok. 

There’s a fatigue that sets in after a hurricane; from the anxiety of preparing or evacuating, from the trauma of just living through it, from the major clean up afterwards, from heat and doing without.  But Houston can rebuild. We can clean up. We can power back, while our littler, sister communities have massive problems. It won’t be the same for them anymore. Some places are gone forever. 

Cherry red hurricane lilies bloomed this week, and they withered this week, too.

Hurricane Ike

There may or may not be a new entry on Monday (15th), when I usually post. Hurricane Ike is coming our way. I’m not right on the coast, but close enough to get lots of rain and wind. If power’s up, so will I be. If not, I’ll be back when I can. All my fellow coastal Texans, stay dry and safe…..

Yesterday

Yesterday was a rich day. I didn’t expect it––maybe that’s what makes it so dear. I started with an exercise class with my friend. We kalumped and kareened around trying to follow the more experienced members, then went off to have some of the best coffee in town at a little taqueria. Then I went to lunch with other friends, and we ended talking in that heartfelt and deep way friends will about life and its heartbreaks, its hard, unavoidable places. Then I took my grandson, all of eight, and a new cub scout, a Bear, to a community garden to go over his bobcat trail material. We sat under a full lime tree near a passion vine that had three monarchs going crazy and studied his salute and handshake and pledge. He was earnest and distracted by the butterflies. He assured me that he and Spencer had practiced the handshake at least ten times. He told me I was a good Akela (that’s leader). Then my love picked Julian Schnabel’s The Diving Bell and the Butterfly for our Saturday night flick, and the movie moved me so profoundly, the essential story, the acting, and the visuals, that I had to turn the TV off afterwards. I just didn’t want anything, a commerical, a lame show, some talking head who has nothing to say that makes anything any better, to spoil what I had just seen and felt. Based on a true story, the hero in the movie suffers a massive stroke and cannot move or speak, but he can still feel and see and regret and remember. I regret not a moment of yesterday: friendship, morning coffee, profound talk about difficult decisions, my grandson in the garden, witnessing a creative project that expresses in full depth the wistfulness of life, which is what yesterday was in all its glory, wistful and small-ly grand. My eyes closed last night on memories of the green of the garden and the orange of a butterfly wing. As the hero in the movie said, I have my imagination and my memories.