By the time I landed in New Orleans Friday night, evacuations had already begun. I arrived home from a visit to Vancouver, Washington, where my daughter Kate and her husband recently moved with their new baby. I moved to New Orleans five years ago to be near Kate after my husband, John, passed away.
I came home for my cat, Ollie. I had thought of staying on in Vancouver to avoid the agony of a New Orleans hurricane but I had been away five weeks, and Ollie was already traumatized enough. Flying home, an all-day affair with a connection in Houston, I scrolled through photos of my grandson, my first, who has stolen my heart. In this dreamy state, I landed in my beautiful hometown where in the past five years I have healed, walked, loved, and finished my book.
At home, I hugged Ollie, made a sandwich for dinner, watched the news and fell asleep. I awakened at 4:00 in the morning, prepared my house for the hurricane, shoved Ollie in his carrier, loaded the car, and was on the road to my son-in-law's parents' farm in Mississippi by 6:30, where we will be out of the worst of it. The interstate was clogged and Ollie howled from the back seat.
Up early this morning, I watched the backyard from the screened porch as the clouds thickened. I remembered when Hurricane Mitch barreled through the Western Caribbean toward our boat, Laughing Goat, when John was in New York on business. I remembered the eerie gray silence before it hit and how frightened I was to be in charge of the boat. I remembered John's faith in me and my growing faith in myself.
Holding Fast, my memoir about our Caribbean voyage, is launching October 19th. How fitting that I sit here now, waiting for Ida amid the onrush of memories.