It’s the Fourth of July, 2010, and we did it — “pre-evacuated” — because, along with all the other Gulf Coast residents, we were being poisoned against our will.
The Corexit headache is (maybe) finally going away. One more seat-of-the-pants trip to Grand Isle ankled us good for a couple days — it’s hard to sort all of one’s material possessions when one can’t stand up or keep one’s eyes open. Then we finished packing, split for Texas and points west, and drove all night, in hot weather with the heater blasting in the car to keep the radiator from exploding.
Thank the stars there was no sitting in those hurricane evacuation lines we expected — the Goat Boat would’ve certainly blown up. Every possession is stuffed in our beleaguered antique car outside on the gravel road — except for our gorgeous barge-board house in the Holy Cross, on the River in New Orleans. Can’t take that with us.
The house and we had a good long talk. We made sure it knew we loved it, even though we never really got a chance to know each other. We asked it not to fall down, and promised to return, if hope would let us. It’s alright to feel this crazy, because things ARE this crazy. Said goodbye to the house, and to the neighborhood, and went across the street to the levee to take one last look at the River and the million-dollar view … but we couldn’t do it. There’s no reason to walk up the levee just to cry some more. Ever hear of the story of Lot’s wife? Our face already felt like a pillar of salt from all the tears. Sorry to be melodramatic but it’s true.
Now, we sit in an undisclosed location in rural Texas, listening to the neighborhood fireworks and cuddling with the scared dogs inside — transfixed in front of the computer, digesting information, compiling links, and filling our brain with the reality of what’s happening, of what we escaped by leaving, perhaps in the nick of time. Perhaps we’re not far enough away.
God dangit, we wanted to live out the rest of our days in our homeland. In the South, in Dixie — but in the lowest part of Dixie, with pan-global freaks and unique indigenous melting-pot cultures and crazy-beautiful nature. And now the world megacorps are killing it, with the assistance of the American government and its military. The Gangster Party is staging a coup — successfully. The South, by the looks of things, will NOT rise again any time soon, but will instead go down in history as the place where the beginning of the end of the world started.
So maligned, we Southerners are. So tired of being accused of racism and lack of intelligence. So tired of our accents being jealously made fun of and mangled on television. So tired, mainly, of being the redheaded stepchild of the country.
The unspeakable horror of slavery was as real as the Holocaust — but slavery loomed everywhere in the colonies. Blah blah blah it’s not even worth getting into AGAIN for the millionth time, trying to defend the South against people who think racist attitudes somehow can proliferate disproportionately in an area where black and white people live on top of each other and, for the most part, enjoy it. At least down here in Louisiana.
Southerners are so friendly. So, so friendly. An armed society is a polite society. Look us in the eye when we walk down the street. Not because we’re threatened by you, but because it’s common courtesy for us to each let the other one know we mean no harm. COMMON COURTESY. Ever heard of that?
An opportunity for love arises with this greeting — howyadoin — and a conversation, smile, or comment gained from this greeting could teach you something, widen your perspective, make you laugh, and/or change your crappy day for the better. Southerners like to do this for each other. Howyadoin. How yall doin? Howdy. That’s why we left San Francisco to come settle in the only other port city we’d ever be able to live in and feel right about it.
We were tired of standing in line at the grocery store in California, trying to small-talk people all Southern-style, and having them look at us like we were crazy and clutch their purses tighter and pretend we weren’t there. That made us feel bad. That’s not how it’s supposed to go. Southerners know this. We were finally back home.
Well, if we are soon to experience this environmental ollapse, then we want to be with our chosen family in our other home, near the heat of consciousness known as the Bay Area. Things that pepper the Bay Area’s history and future are arguably more crucial for our species’ evolution than nearly all else: green technology, bio-engineering, computers, quantum physics, radical thinking, equality, legalization, relaxation, spirituality without religion, flowering of consciousness, and an explosion of lowbrow D.I.Y. grand-scale interactive mechanistic apocalyptic art that doubles as scientific playtime and / or visions which foretell the future … all things with which we resonate like a tuning fork struck by lightning.
Everyone we know is a rock star. We live in the whole world, not just one place. But since we don’t have family or a job to ground us in the Gulf, we’ll go where there’s security, comfort, human contact, love, hope, and beautiful landscapes in which to walk and think and write.
We’d rather fly the coop like oil-soaked birds, to clean off in the Pacific Ocean or the high Nevada desert, and spend time over there with those guys. If we go down in an earthquake, so be it. At least we’d know the Earth took us out — and not other people blinded by greed and ego, drunk on the power they have to manipulate other human beings and discard them at will.
Part of us feels like a quitter. A failure. A deserter. But the other part knows that we’re now and forevermore chemically sensitive to Corexit, to the point where we physically can’t live there, not for another day. Who knows if the Corexit destroys our meat-sack faster than other people’s, or if it’s just that the alarm system in our meat-sack is louder than those around us, so we can holler about it at this keyboard like Chicken Little … but we had to go. Plus, itchiness to “pre-evacuate” was beginning to take a toll on our social relationships, to put it mildly. Those who aren’t prepared to leave, or are still in denial about the truth of the situation, don’t want to hear what we have to say, and we are nearly incapable of talking about anything else. At all.
We still live in New Orleans in our heart, and other writers split their time between cities, so why can’t we? Later, when it’s not a death-cloud of poison, with military vehicles pouring in, and nobody who’s supposed to serve and protect us is telling us why they’re there?
New Orleans is a state of mind. It’s unique on this planet, as is the Louisiana bayou system. In our heart, we can always retreat to the place that taught us resiliency, patience, endurance, voodoo, bounce music, second-lining, hurricane evacuation preparedness, and how to field-dress a bullet wound. We can and will go to this place when we close our eyes, when it’s too much — when we need to remember there’s magic in the world, love in hatred, sex in music, and wisdom in the marsh.
One friend told us: You never leave New Orleans because you want to. We say amen to that.
Love you, New Orleans. Love you love you love you. But the oil is everywhere, and there’s a hurricane comin’, and we’re the type who leaves the concert before the end, to avoid the crush of crowds on the way out. We won’t say goodbye; we’ll just say see ya later. We’ll be in California, or maybe Nevada, trying to talk to people in the grocery store line, and hoping they talk to us too.
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