Nashville, TN., 12:27 p.m., D.S.T., Sunday, September 13, 2009~
Thought I would write in here, to update y'all on my life.
I was hoping I would be back home, in New Orleans, Louisiana, by now; that isn't proving to be the case. I am still here in Tennessee; looks like I am going to stay put here for the time being.
Antoine Terrell Rivillier here. I am now sixteen years old; I live in Nashville with my parents, younger sister, Angelica (13), and little brother, Reynaldo, who is now ten. Papa and mama are here with me, too; I thank God for my family: they're the glue that holds me together, to keep me from going over the edge of insanity.
I have since assimilated myself into life here; I've gotten used to the busier lifestyle of the city (I have always been a city boy: lived in N'Orleans, remember?), and have since made a whole new group of friends. I no longer try to think about Katrina all the time; however, I still smell, hear, see, feel things that nobody in their right mind has a right to experience, thanks to that bitch who stole the life I once knew from me.
I still have nightmares nearly every night. Anytime it rains or storms and the rain picks up, I'm automatically thinking: "Oh, God! Another Katrina-like storm!" I have since become terrified of even the gentlest thunderstorms, with nothing more than brief heavy rains or soft thunder and infrequent lightning.
Storms absolutely undo me.
I still see the images in my mind: flooded buildings and streets. Bloated, stinking, dead bodies floating in murky, polluted waters. Flies thickly swarming everywhere you look. A blood-red sun beating unmercifully upon hell here on earth, the hell that was once a thriving, bustling, vibrant city full of party-minded people.
I smell the stench of swamp water, garbage rotting everywhere, decomposing flesh, unwashed clothing or bodies, the smell of human waste.
I feel the clinging of south Louisiana summertime heat on tired, unwashed bodies, the sense of forboding, the overwhelming sensation of fear crawling up the base of my spine as I worry about the future or what is going to become of us as we wait for people to come help us in our time of need.
I hear the sounds of people crying, begging for mercy or assistance, the sad tones of a Cajun accordion playing a funeral tune, the sound of wind and rain threatening to blow the walls in of the place where we have taken shelter, hear the gasping, labored breathing of an elderly gentleman who is clearly on his way to checking out of life here on Earth, and the begging pleas of his wife, who only wants her husband to live another day.
I taste vomit as I think about all of what I have seen, felt, heard, tasted during Katrina and the days after while waiting for people to come rescue us.
People tell me all the time to "get over Katrina". I am sorry to burst your bubble, but one can't exactly "forget" something as horrendous as Hurricane Katrina. She nearly wiped the Gulf Coast from existance; even now, four years later AFTER the fact, there are people still unaccounted for, and it is going to take at least ten years or more for the cities of New Orleans, Louisiana, Biloxi, Mississippi, Mobile, Alabama, etc., to return to their former glory.
There are people who are still displaced, or people who are looking for lost loved ones, with no fucking clue as to whether they are dead or not. For all I care, they might as well be dead.
My family has suffered horribly since Katrina: we were on the streets for over two years until two years ago, when my parents finally got a break. They are now both working, and we've since gotten a new house. It's small and pretty cramped, but it's a lot better than sleeping in boxes in the elements and wondering where your next meal (or opportunity) is going to come from.
I am happy to say we kids have fared better, too; yet like many a Katrina victim (survivor), we have PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder); a lot of us are in treatment or therapy of some kind, anything to try to get rid of the bad memories. Now, some aren't able to afford treatment, so they suffer in silence or while their days away on the streets, homeless, broke, destitute, just like we once were before opportunity came knockin'.
So before you go shootin' off your mouth again and tell us to shut up about Katrina and to get over it, you listen to me, and listen to me good. I am NOT going to get over it. Once it happened, we can't forget about it. EVER. It changed our lives forever, and we can't ever go back to the lives we once knew. We might as well make do with what we have now and move the fuck on.
So be it.