It's not that this day really captures my job, or my life, but rather that it embraces why we are here, and what we are here for. In a series of thoughts and events:
I stopped by the Howard Ave trailer park to see a resident, the older black guy who lives in a trailer there. I walk around the park after talking to him. There are a bunch of trailers FEMA has reclaimed, which I don't understand. I don;t know if it means people have found a place to go, or have no where to go. And there are the trailers with cardboard duct-taped to cover the broken windows, which I understand all too well. The Howard Ave trailer park isn't necesarily an inviting place, all concrete and gravel, aside from these new developments. The resident and I sit and talk. I sit on the steps of the trailer he is worried about losing. "They are going to start making us pay rent, water, electricity, and our own gas." He tells me about the trailer he lived in on Magnolia street before this, and I know that he has no where to go, and no amount of FEMA recertification visits are going to change the fact that there is no where to rent anymore.
I take my lunch at the Biloxi Bistro, and talk on the phone to a friend from home. My street team is going door-to-door talking to residents about the new proposed CDBG plan out of the Gov's office, a meeting the superintendent called, and the upcoming elections. I had dropped off a few of the CDBG explanations at businesses downtown the day before, and when I walk in the woman behind the counter turns to the US Post office employee ordering lunch and says, "oh, you were asking who brought this info in; it was this young lady." I eat my lunch, and the two PO guys eat thiers, but before they leave they ask me about my info, my job, where I live, and what work I do. They are transplants. Retired military. Living here a decade or more. And one week after the storm they walked the destroyed streets of Biloxi. They tell me about the erie feeling of a town with its doors swinging open, abandoned. And the hope they had brought to residents. "Neither rain nor...." I think. But I think about the trauma of being the embodiment of "normalcy" to a place you don't recognize. Of how they are doing now, as they thank me for my work, a work that started after the barges had been cleared, the roads openned, the mail regular.
It starts raining so I rush off to round up my team. We drive back to base and I explain Living Cities. At quarter to 6 I am out again, stopping by Kryzra Stallworth's Neighborhood Watch meeting, which is sparcely attended. Then off to the schools meeting. There I learn not only that schools will open in thier old locations a month before they were projected, now on Dec 4, but that they will house the boys and girls club, Head Start, and Moore Community House. I have sat with so many parents lamenting the complete lack of childcare, that this information literally makes me glow.
I set off to meet the coordination center chicks. Amy, Ginelle (sorry if misspelled), Elish, Lucille, and Tim. They are a giggly bunch when I arrive at the bar, laughing about work, and life, and East Biloxi, PTSD. The usual. I eat, we drink, and set off to Just Us. I have been reading notes from meetings that happened months ago. They lament the lack of street lights, and I've been thinking about how we could help that situation. It's the kind of thing that seperates us from the community, that helps us not "get it" about East Biloxi. But we drive off, and there are lights on every street. And not only that. Lights shine out of houses. Amy and I look in wonder. People really living in thier houses.
At Just Us, Hands On arrives in full force, after Tim and I get a chance to catch up. Astrid stands up and sings "leaving on a jet plane," tears fill my eyes because suddenly I know she won't be returning from her vacation on Saturday. The rent cast performs "Seasons of Love," Jeff and Guillermo "Don't stop believing" and many many many more. I am filled with love and sadness.
:and you will know me as"