As the Anniversary of Katrina Approaches

The other day a friend mentioned maybe going to San Francisco and asked me if I’d ever been there. Yes, when I was a kid. Also, then, I remembered when I first started dating my ex-husband and we’d taken a road trip and spent a couple of days there. It’s beautiful, a great scene, pretty cold, but everyone should go. It wasn’t until the next night that I remembered that we loved San Francisco so much when we were there that we were supposed to go for our honeymoon. We’d booked the trip that summer before our October 1, 2005, wedding date, and then had to cancel it, like so many things, because Hurricane Katrina had hit on August 29. I had blocked out the memory, but now I recall being on the phone and arguing with whatever online agency it was that didn’t want to refund our money because we couldn’t take the trip—had they not seen the news of the past weeks? We didn’t have homes, or a working airport yet. Everyone’s job was in limbo and no one had enough money. And didn’t this agent realize we couldn’t take a honeymoon if we didn’t have a wedding, and the one we were going to have was definitely off, with the venue damaged, all of our potential guests scattered throughout the country, and our wedding and engagement rings who knows where with the jeweler, who also had to evacuate, of course. I don’t like thinking about Katrina. I get peevish every time I have to—and, yes, even now, while I try to pen this blog.

My experience with Katrina is one of the millions that are all different but all the same: life changing, and usually somewhat negative, to understate. All of us who were affected either directly or indirectly continue to be affected. I’m tired of thinking and talking about it, but I am grateful that there are artists in our pages who can talk about how their work has grown—through writing, theater, and film—because of the storm and its aftermath. That makes the feature of essays in the summer issue reaffirming rather than depressing. Alison Pelegrin, John Biguenet, and Zack Godshall write about how their work as poets, dramatists, and filmmakers evolved after their Katrina experiences. Their essays are also in our audio gallery, as are recordings from many other contributors in our summer issue.

I would like to take that return trip to San Francisco at some point, browse through City Lights again, maybe catch a baseball game. Memory is how we know who we are, but sometimes it’s necessary just to tuck it away and move on.

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