Watching Gustav

You’d think I’d be relieved that I moved away from New Orleans at the beginning of the summer, but the truth is, I wish I were there right now, putting sundresses and Wheat Thins and short stories in the back of the car. Watching from a distance is a bad feeling.

The CNN anchorman tells an old woman holding a little dog and waiting for the bus to who-knows-where:

“I don’t know if you’ve seen the highway, but you’re going to have a loooong drive.”

I keep turning the TV off and then back on.  I keep looking at the radar in the corner of the screen and waiting.

The end of August makes me feel sick.  Kate, too.  She made plans months ago to leave New Orleans today and drive to Ohio for a 5 year PhD program.  This afternoon, she’s already in Meridian, Mississippi when she texts me:

“It feels like the whole city is moving away with me.”

I don’t know if that’s a good or a bad thing.  I wonder if it’s easier to say goodbye to a place when everyone else is leaving with you.  Or if it's harder.

Ashley calls from River Road en route to her friend's house in Sorrento and wishes she weren’t evacuating alone.

Three years ago today, we drove to Nashville and watched the levees break from sleeping bags on Ashley’s living room floor.

I tell her I wish I was there, which feels wrong but true.

“You should come for Halloween,” she says.

We both admit to thinking we might have to have Halloween somewhere else.

I ask her if she remembered to pick up our favorite awkward waiter from Kyoto.

She says, “Yep.  He’s right here.”

Then she says, “If this thing really hits here, no one will come back.”

I ask her what she packed.

She says: