I was supposed to get my wish in August of 2005. My husband and I were going to give each other the trip as an anniversary present. That would have put us getting there the day before Katrina. As luck would have it, we were in the process of building our new home and had a several problems come up just before the trip that made us cancel our plans.
Because I knew that we could have been right there in the middle of it, I was glued to the news stations for updates. I cried seeing people suffering at the Superdome and kept asking how any of this could be happening in America. I knew that there, but for the grace of God, went me. I was supposed to be there. That was supposed to be part of my fate.
So, ten years later, I finally got to see New Orleans. We drove over from Gulfport on I-10. As we crossed into the city, I felt it. Suddenly I was overtaken by this heaviness, almost like a panic attack. I couldn't breathe. I wanted to scream. I wanted to cry. I wanted to turn around and get as far away as possible.
I looked around and saw that on both sides of the interstate were empty buildings, overgrown lots, and some sort of abandoned castle. As we continued into the actual city, we passed houses that still had the X's painted on the fronts. The feeling only became more intense until we crossed into the French Quarter. It was a short visit, less than two hours, but I will remember that feeling until the day that I die.
Now there are people that will say it was my imagination, and that's fine, but I know that what I felt was real and I hope to never have to feel that again. I firmly believe that places can hold the emotions of what happened there (like the cold silence you read about at concentration camps today where even birds won't sing), and I want to believe that's true. If so, the emotions left in New Orleans are powerful and shattered me.
Have any of you ever been to a place and felt something like this?