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A pink dress at the prom

Sunday, May 14, 3:20 p.m., Ponchatoula, Louisiana — Last night, Archbishop Hannan High School had its senior prom in Hammond, Louisiana. After a fiasco with my date a few weeks ago, my best friends from school and I decided to go together as a group. finally reunited for only the second time since August.

We didn’t have a limo. We didn’t make this the greatest occasion of our lives like we did last year. It was just a little reunion before graduation, nothing more. Looking back, I am so glad that I made my junior prom the important night I did last year. Back then, normalcy was part of my life. Now, I can’t trust in anything to be there tomorrow.

Because of that, this prom was just a day to me. Just an event.

Yet it was special in a way because for the first time in almost forever, I had the chance to spend time with my friends. But beyond that, prom failed. It wasn’t filled with all the glamour you see in the magazines, the perfect prom with expensive, sparkling dresses and hair that takes hours. This prom — my senior prom — was a reunion, which in some ways was so much better than any dance normal kids can have.

The greatest thing about prom was that I had the chance to wear my dress: my pretty, pastel pink dress. The one I bought during the summer and saved for so long. The one that survived the hurricane. We had it cleaned a few weeks before, and it came out great. The smell of mold was gone, and it looked immaculate. It looked as if the hurricane had never touched it.

Late in the afternoon yesterday, I drove to Jenn’s house trailer and picked her up. I looked mighty fine, if I might say. I had my dress shoes on, my gorgeous dress itself, and my sunglasses to add a bit of myself to the outfit.

Michael Flatley’s “Lord of the Dance” blaring the entire way and with my impressive drumming skills on the steering wheel, I drove us to a little restaurant in Hammond where we met some of our old friends. We laughed so much and had a great time together, just being with each other, just spending time with each other once again.

It was strange, though. We’re only teenagers, but it felt so much like a school reunion 10 years into the future. We’ve all grown up so much. I knew these people were my friends, but I couldn’t help but feel different from them. I’ve changed a lot in the months we’ve been separated, and they’ve changed as well. We’re all new people.

Prom was amazing, but not because it was a dance. It was just time to spend with my friends and be a kid again, if only for a little while. We danced on the corner of the street in our prom dresses while the sun set behind us, and we went to a hall to see old friends again. Some people danced, but we just sat there and talked. Definitely different, but also rather nice in a strange way.

I guess, in the end, I am different. I will always be different.

This hurricane has caused a lot changes in me, some I’ve noticed and other changes still dormant. Most of these changes, I think, are good. But, every now and then, when I’m alone and it’s dark around me, I slip back and I think of all the things I’ve lost this past year: a lover, a home, my friends, my school … my normalcy.

Sometimes, I wonder if I could go back and change things, what would I change.

I guess it’s hard for some people to understand that these aren’t easy thoughts to have when your house is in shambles and you live in a FEMA camper. It’s hard to cope with that kind of bleakness. There are so many little things that I could almost give anything to change. I’d love privacy again. I would love all my precious books back and a bed I can crawl into to read them.  I would love to have my Pirates of the Caribbean posters back to greet me each morning, and all the little material things that distract me from the greater good that’s happened this year.

You see, when all is said and done, I snap out of that daze of stupidity and I remember all that I have gained and all the adventures I have had so far. It’s been worth it.

My prom wasn’t full of the shining and shimmering splendor most girls would die without and my dress came from a house with almost six feet of water.

But this prom gave me the chance to be with my friends again in one last grand hurrah before high school ends next week. For that, for that wonderful opportunity to see the world around me in a different light, I would not — I would never — change a thing.

Samantha Perez is a Reporter for Youth Journalism International.

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