Back in August 2005, I was damn happy with my life. Except one piece (NC vs FL).
I got into my old Toyota Celica a few days before Katrina was to hit New Orleans, stupidly thinking how great it would be to ride it out at Nick’s Bar, 2400 Tulane Avenue.
Told my boss I was going at work earlier that day.
“See you tomorrow,” he replied.
After work, I packed a bag at 2 a.m. and laid down for a restless attempt at sleep. My mind was intent on adventure.
A few hours later, a little bleary-eyed with a gym bag of clothes, a notepad and pens, a couple of disposable cameras, some Mountain Dew, Funyons, and Slim Jims in tow, I was on 264 outside New Bern, headed to the bulls-eye.
Van Halen and Tom Petty cassette tapes would be my traveling companion.
Outside the second exit, still in Craven County, my alternator died.
I got towed home. I would not be riding it out in my favorite bar at the end of Highway 61 on Tulane Avenue.
Instead, I did what so many if us did, watched it on TV for days, weeks, months.
I’m lucky. I would have been there (press passes used to get you through a lot of turn arounds)… And I would have been screwed. Probably worse.
The picture above shows near where I would have been parked on Tulane. If I was lucky one of the bartenders – RIP Colin – would have taken pity on me when they closed that night, never to open again.
Probably not, though.
Most likely, I would have drunkenly climbed up on Interstate 10 in the humidity and heat and rising water and been there with little money, nowhere to go and a car floating away. That’s when it would have gotten interesting.
I think about those days often. Of my luck, and the so many 10s of thousands who weren’t. So many lost everything. Some died that night and days, weeks, months and years later. Some left because everything was destroyed.
Now, as another monster heads towards the only town I ever really wanted to live in, I can only hope it wobbles away.
Be safe New Orleans. Be smart folks I still know there.