Fleeing Katrina Journals News The Tattoo

Katrina tossed us into a snow globe

Our camper. (Samantha Perez/YJI)


Sunday, Oct. 23, 4:13 p.m. , Ponchatoula, Louisiana — I live in a snow globe. The one there on your lovely window sill during Christmastime. Warm sugar cookie smell from the kitchen, carols from the radio. Wrapped presents lie beneath a Christmas tree, green branches thick and decorated with silver ornaments. Be a good girl, a good boy, darling; Santa’s watching you.

But so is Big Brother, just waiting for the moment to pick up the snow globe and shake it up. Shake, shake, and let the snow fall.

Cold fronts are coming down now, and it’s freezing, even in our little camper. We use the heater when we have to, but we hate using so much propane. It’s so cold, especially at night. I sleep next to the emergency hatch, and the cold air leaks in at night. I’m in love with the woman who sent me my navy blue jacket, and there are six wonderful blankets on my bed. 

Everyone yells. My parents fight with each other or with me. I fight back. It’s hard living so confined and stressed and unknowing.

There are still no answers to questions we have, and Katrina has fallen from the news.

My story isn’t finished, but the media thinks it is. Just because the world has seemed to move on, it doesn’t mean everything is back in its right place.

No, I still come home to a camper where I change my clothes there in my bed. I’m yelled at, and when I go to school, my close friends aren’t there. Things aren’t their real ‘normal.’ It’s a twisted routine I’ve fallen into, along with everyone else.

Hello, dysfunction.

My mother’s parents came and spent a few days with us, making space in the camper very tight. They’re looking to find a trailer park to stay in nearby, maybe in Hammond. We looked at house trailers with them, and I’m excited. Real bedrooms! Mom and I called Dad, who was at work, and we were ecstatic about the chance of getting into the trailer park with our grandparents.

In the end, Dad and Mom fought over it for a long time. My dad didn’t want to leave the land our friends are letting us stay on. It’s safe here, he said, and we can’t be sure that the trailer park would be safe.

We were all yelling and fighting for a long time that night, and I put on my headphones to tune it all out. But, as always, Mom agreed with Dad — staying here on this land would be safer. Maybe there would be a way where we could get a house trailer on this land, she told me. I’m not a fool. I know a house trailer can’t make the turns to get here that easily.

I finally pushed my new friend too far. He won’t even speak to me now, and I know it’s my fault. I know I pushed him too far, but this isn’t simple. I’m tired of getting yelled at so much of the time, tired of coming home to a camper, tired of this new school.

People have breaking points. There’s no one that doesn’t.

What everything comes down to now is simple — Incubus in my head, silence on my lips. When my parents fight, there’s nothing that can be done. Sure, they’re stressed and tired, but so am I. When I want my best friend back, there’s nothing I can do. So, off I slip into my music, and it’s instantly better. If these events have taught me anything, I know that nothing lasts forever. Kansas had it right: Everything is dust in the wind.

My home, my school, my senior year. My awesome friend Jenn from Hannan; our lunch table where we laughed. My best friend who reached his breaking point.

Baby, yeah, step down!

My room with my bed and my books. My coat that kept me warm when outside it was cold. And even before the hurricane, my relationship with the Ex. People — like fate — are fickle. Dust in the wind.

Better than watching Gellar bending silver spoons.

My stories on disks that lie on the floor, rusted and broken. My parents’ patience. 

The people you value will eventually stop taking care of you. In the end of things, each individual is alone to make decisions. We each have to fend for our own selves because, in the end, your lover or your best friend won’t be there for you. You’re alone to take care of your very own self. Good luck.

Sometimes when the yelling starts, I go running down my new, strange street. I like how, if I run fast enough, the tears fly backwards and splatter on the ground behind you. Splatter away that person you needed, that friend you never thought would hurt you. Splatter away loneliness. Splatter away sadness.

I am bottled, fizzy water.

Where people fail, art’s there waiting, arms wide and open for embrace. Write away hurt. Music away anger. Draw away homelessness and misery. Speaking now from hard experiences earned, it’s better that way.

People will hurt you, and when it comes down to the grind and grit of the tank’s bottom, you are alone, standing there, hopefully on your own two feet. If not, you need to work hard to pick yourself up. It’s not easy, and so many people won’t think this is true at all, but remember — no one’s good karma can last forever.

So art yourself away to Eden. Let the snow fall. Bring on the blizzard.

Samantha Perez is a Reporter for Youth Journalism International.

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