Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Home Sweet Home

Well, I got home on Saturday, October 8. I left Baton Rouge at about 6:30am, and got in the front door at about 7:45pm. It was a long ass day of driving, my friends. I drank coffee. I stopped at rest stops. I had McDonald's and a bunch of granola bars. I stared at the highway. If it wasn't for the satellite radio in the car, I would have probably been drooling, too. I spent the first two nights home showing my family and friends all the pictures I have, and telling them all the stories I'd lived through. It was good to be home, but sad to leave Louisiana. It's hard to explain.

The weird thing is that while I felt really bad for the people whose lives were ended or affected by the hurricane, I never felt terribly adversely affected by what I saw while I was actually there. Sure, I was shocked by the destruction. I couldn't help but get that knot in my throat when I saw a picture of a family lodged in the sediment of a flooded neighborhood. The thing is, the general mood of not only the people around me, but the people I'd encountered whose homes had been destroyed was positive. Families on their way to look through what used to be their homes (much like what you see on this blog) still smiled and waved to me, even in the middle of that wasteland that is the hardest-hit parts of New Orleans and southern Louisiana. Still, when I got home, I had dreams of walking, driving through the really hard hit neighborhoods. They weren't nightmares, but the kind of dreams you have that you wake up and just know were weird in that things-are-not-supposed-to-be-like-that way.

I work for EPA, so my job is by default rewarding. I can make an actual difference in peoples' lives--albeit a small one. Not too many people can say that about their jobs. However, I can honestly say that I've never been as interested in or excited about the work I do as I was about the work I performed in Louisiana. Nor have I ever felt like I've actually done something like when I was in Louisiana.

I have left my laptop at work since I got back, so I haven't posted because I don't have any pictures to upload. But tomorrow I'm going to give a little narrated slide show for my section, and will then bring my laptop home. I promise that I will put more pictures and stories up then.

By the way, the last night I was in Baton Rouge, I had a good conversation with the lady who works the security desk at the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality building. I know I told her so, but she's the perfect example of humanity: she's housing evacuees from New Orleans. You find that when you meet people who actually accomplish good things in this world, you have a very deep respect for them.

Also, I genuinely enjoyed meeting and working with everybody down there. There are too many people to say hello and thank you to. I know I'm too spastic to remember to post a 'thank you' post about the folks I met. However, to anybody who reads this who was or still is working down in Louisiana: Thanks for the opportunity to meet you. I'll never forget you.

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