Looks like Louisiana will have more rain this year than in the last 100. Seriously. Since 1909. Before women could vote. That’s a lot of rain. Yesterday was the worst of it (I hope/think). I finally finished clearing out all the piles in the house and cleaning from front to back. I did the bedroom, bathroom and closets Saturday and finished the kitchen, living room and balcony yesterday. I was finally ready to sit on my couch, relax and watch TV for the first time since I got here, just have a normal night alone. I will say that I moved here partly to further reduce my aloneness, to create a sense of community, and I have not been alone a whole day or night since I arrived.
So, I sat down and grabbed the remote… then saw a giant puddle of water pouring in under a door to the balcony. I grabbed a towel and stuffed it in front of the door. Then, I threw on tennis shoes and a knit cap, grabbed a 2×4 and a plastic bag to block the outside of the door and ran out my kitchen door onto the balcony.
For those of you who’ve never been in a southern rainstorm, here’s what it’s like – you’re doing life, then someone unzips the sky and water gushes down so that you can barely see the air between big, floppy droplets. Rain deluges whatever unfortunate soul is stuck in it, soaks them to their underwear, and I was dressed in all the wrong clothes. Over 500 cars were abandoned, people were stuck at malls – it was a LOT of rain, over 5 inches in under 2 hours. This was serious rain and it was seriously cold. I shut the kitchen door to keep out the weather and investigated the door to the living room. Curiously, the balcony is a full 3 inches lower than the door. It wasn’t that water was pooling on the balcony and spilling in, it was that the water was flying sideways under the door’s weather shield.
I quickly assessed that I had the wrong tools for the job and ran back to the kitchen door only to find it… locked. Turns out all my doors are self-locking. Oh.
I REALLY quickly assessed that I wasn’t going to be able to figure this out in the rain and dimming light. I ran down the spiral staircase (because of course the story has to include running in circles under the roof ledge where the water forms a sheet) then across the backyard, now saturated in 3 inches of water. I rearranged flower pots blocking the back gate and ran the length of the house to the front. Thank goodness, my downstairs neighbor was home and in a heroic mood. She took me in, made calls to the landlord (who could not drive to us), let me call a cousin (who could not get to us), then split a few bottles of prosecco with me and fed me brie until we could find someone to come to my rescue. We spent over 4 hours together. I’m pretty sure this is the first friend I’m making here, but at the very least, I’m finally feeling like part of a community that existed before I got here, not one I had to create. I like that.
In L.A., I used to tease (sorta) that the only way my neighbors would know I was dead would be the smell. In my building there were several kind, attentive people but it was a box of people, not a building housing a community. Many times, neighbors stared right at me running for the key-access elevator door carrying six bags of groceries and a twelve pack of soda – and let the doors close in my face. Once, while waiting at the key-access garage door, a neighbor tried to pull his car around mine to get into the building. Here, though I am truly and specifically grateful to my downstairs neighbor for taking me in, I have the sense that many of my neighbors would have taken in a soaking wet non-threatening looking new neighbor and done what they could to help me solve my problem and many of them would have come up with the same solution – booze and brie. Gotta love the Big Easy.
My neighbor said that our landlord has decided not to renovate our building and is instead selling it. So, it would seem that flooding is the least of my apartment worries. Far more worrisome is the idea that I would have to box everything I just unpacked and have to move 30 days after new homeowners close unless they buy this for a rental property and decide to keep the tenants living here.