Thursday – Bossier City, Louisiana (7:45 p.m.) — My aunt, younger cousin and uncle left today, taking with them some other family members that have been here with us. They are going to scout a place for us away from here, a place where maybe we can stay for a while. A few fishing camps have been opened for evacuees. (That’s what we are, evacuees.) You can only stay there for 30 days, but, like I said, we’re gypsies now.
It’s not a bad life, living from cigarette to cigarette, as my ex started saying after he changed. And, besides, Esmeralda was beautiful in the Disney version.
I’ve been living off of the cereal packs from the hotel’s free breakfast. Frosted Flakes, Fruit Loops, Raisin Bran. You can make your own waffles here with a waffle-making machine. You pour the batter into a machine and close a heated lid. The waffles are nice, but they are too big for me to eat. I drink milk constantly, because milk is my favorite drink. I sit in this chair in the hotel. There are gray stains on it, and the cushion has been worn flat, but it’s a good chair. It rocks, though, when you lean too far to the right. I hope it doesn’t break. I have a glass of milk next to me, except it’s not a glass. It’s a red plastic cup. We wash them and use them again like real glasses, but a real glass doesn’t bend when you squeeze it in your hand.
My friend sent me a link to an online forum that a former teacher at my school started. It’s amazing. Everyone is checking in. I found that my cousin and his family are safe in Mississippi. Someone posted that my school, Archbishop Hannan, was hit by a tornado before the parish flooded. I don’t think that it will be back in session before we can graduate. We don’t even know when they’ll let us back into the parish.
I wish I knew things about home. There isn’t anything about St. Bernard on the news. It’s all about New Orleans. It’s all about the crime there.
We aren’t all like that. We aren’t all carrying guns and shooting at the people trying to save lives. We aren’t all stealing and killing. I hate the news. Why can’t they show my house, my parish? We hardly know anything about home. I just want to go back there. I wonder what color my pretty dress is now. Black? Brown? Certainly, not pastel pink….
I needed to get away from the computer today, so I went to the pool area of the hotel. I brought my flute, and I played, and I was happy. I played the songs I know by heart, the songs from Lord of the Dance. I faced away from the pool and closed my eyes. The chair I sat in was the kind that beautiful people bring to the beach, smooth, flexible plastic. I took off my shoes, and then I played “Warriors.”
When I’d finished playing a few songs, a man at the table a couple feet away asked if it was a Celtic tune. I was excited, and I said yes. It turns out that his wife, who was with him and was very pretty, had seen Lord of the Dance before and had loved it. She said she was from New Orleans, an evacuee along with her husband. She worked at Loyola University. I’m pretty sure she said she was a librarian there. I remember smiling when she told me. I love books! Both of them were so nice. We talked for a long time by the pool, and when they decided to leave, they came to me and gave me a big hug. They said that I played beautifully and that things would get better. They were nice people.
I played some more from Lord of the Dance and other things, but then I went back to the hotel room, where I belong. I found some more pictures of home, and I heard from a few more of my friends. I miss them. I miss my school. I miss my locker. I miss getting to skip to the front of the lunch line, cutting all the underclassmen, because I’m a senior at last.
It’s funny thinking about how it’s under water.
Well, mom says I need to eat something. I’m debating if I should have Raisin Bran or Fruit Loops. Such amazing, life-altering choices. Last week, I was deciding on where I might go to college. Not anymore. Oh well. It’s life now. Welcome to the Gypsy World.
Samantha Perez is a Reporter for Youth Journalism International. Josh Gales is a Photographer for Youth Journalism International.