Monday, July 18, 2011

Daily Dose #51 (07/18/11)

A Katrina Story: Part 6

The Monkey Boy Atomizes

Before Katrina slammed into the gulf coast, I was a spider on the rim of a toilet bowl. After a long life of struggle, it seemed as if I had finally crawled my way to a safe place.

That was not to be. The Universal Toilet got flushed. I got pushed down the concave side of the bowl and thrown in it's swirling waters. No matter how furiously hard I swam against that current, the drain pipe incrementally inched it's way closer.

I had been there before. Whether by providence or choice, re-invention and resurrections have always been a part of my life, and I had pulled that trick off multiple times in the past forty five years.

Christ only had to do it once, and his daddy had a bit of Universal pull. How many times would life's random chaotic events require me to have to pull a rabbit out of my ass? What exactly was in my sphere of control here, and what was not?

What exactly was The Universe trying to tell me? Those were the questions to be answered, and starting the third and final act of my physical life, I wanted to make sure I answered that question very carefully. I knew I wouldn't have many more chances to make those types critical of choices.

My life had been erased. I had my family. I had the love of a good woman. I had my dogs. But I didn't have me. That was on it's way to a lost status way before the storm blew through town. There were too many hits to the bow, and too much irreparable damage.

Katrina literally blew the residents of New Orleans all over the map like milkweed seeds. But in every one of the souls that were pushed and bullied by her, she also planted a seed in every single soul and survivor effected.

How that seed germinated and gestated, took root, and it's rate of growth was dependent on the condition of the "soul soil" in which it was planted.

Amy was 25. She had her whole life ahead of her, and her soul soil was fertile.

I was twenty years older, and the essential nutrients of my soil had been leeched out through multiple resurrections long ago. A large strategic assessment of my personal capacity of resiliency was based on past successes.

It was an ill-founded assessment. I had none, and in painful slow motion, internally crumbled into dust. The outward shell, may have been fastidiously maintained, but ultimately it was a ruse.

That seed was like a microscopic implosion device. I didn't even know it was there, but like an undetected cancer, I started to disintegrate and atomize into the ether, but it took a while time for for it sporadically leak to the surface on its way to become for the dust to become outwardly apparent.

When it did become apparent, I was really the last to realize it. I always was.

I was the Monkey Boy, and I knew how to appear to be smiling.


We had to relocate to a place with heat, and again the Allyn family came up with a solution. Elsa Solderburgh offered to rent us a family lakeside camp in down by 10 mile point, in Spafford.

In winter, these camps are pretty isolated. Isolation was the catalyst that started to feed that toxic seed, like water. I surrounded myself with water in fact, and at the edge of the bleak winter lakeshore, that seed took root within me.

I thought I was healing in that isolation, but the isolation was feeding the cancer instead.

By New Year's Eve, Amy saw it, but she didn't know what to actually do in the face of it. She loved me, and I was starting to give away the ghost I was transforming into. She put on a brave face, but she knew she had to go, and to start her life. Her survival instinct kicked in. She left for New Orleans in February, and I followed in May.

I didn't want to go, but I didn't want to lose her. I knew what awaited me in New Orleans, and I wanted to avoid it at all costs.

She took a job teaching piano at a music school in Mandeville, and supplemented her income as an assistant to a professional organizer. I took whatever shit job I could find, subconsciously putting myself under the metaphoric macaroni dryer.

I gutted rotted sheet rock in rotted houses. I sanded the dried sewage pasted on the exteriors and painted them in the brutal New Orleans summer heat and humidity. I hired myself out as a domestic. I got a job cleaning toilets in a Guest House on Bourbon Street. Nobody could clean a toilet as well. I tried to find dignity and pride where there was little to be found.

As Amy ascended, I descended. By August we were clearly going in opposite directions.

She held out and hoped against hope as I slowly disappeared into an apparition. She waited it out for about seven more months to for me to only hover a couple of inches above rock bottom before she finally left me, as to minimize my impact as my spirit finally fell to earth. It wasn't a shove off a cliff: just a nudge off the curb.

At twenty five, she was ready for her first resurrection act. She chose to live.

At forty five, I was working very hard to disprove the theory that I had another one in me. Known to everyone but me, I chose death instead.

When finally free of personal responsibility of another human, I embraced Katrina's now blooming poisonous vegetation, in full flower.

I know what it's like to watch someone you love disintegrate from the inside out, seemingly by choice. I was much more emotionally mature to handle it when I was bearing witness. I had much more life experience as well.

I am sorry that I subjected somebody I loved, and more importantly someone who loved me, to that experience.

Being sick in the head really isn't an excuse. There are no Mea Culpa's attached to the apology.

The shit house rat owns it all.


Mr. Eddie didn't keep his promise to me, and was probably just placating me anyway.

His remains were identified by DNA evidence in December of 2005. He became another number on the statistical death rolls of Katrina, one of over 1,836 New Orleans souls.

They built a commemorative bronze of his visage, and installed it in the piano lounge of Pat O'Brien's.

On any given Saturday night, you can go see Amy and Alvin do their thing.

That glimpse of the future and the clutch at the rope of hope has been realized.

Have Fun.


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Anonymous said...

You certainly have talent as a writer! I was intrigued and could not stop reading!! so sorry for your experience with Katrina..."for that which does not kill us will only make us stronger".

loree said...

I'm so very glad that you are here to be writing this and not a statistic of Katrina or of George. Thankful that you have returned to my part of the universe in this very unexpected way. Glad that I got to make new opinions and a friend.