NEW ORLEANS — FEMA told Victor Vavasseur his house was worth $50,000.
“If it is,” he replied, “I should have four of them.”
Vavasseur fled the Crescent City just hours ahead of Hurricane Katrina. He packed two pairs of shorts and two T-shirts, intending to be back in less than a week.
He was gone 18 months, months spent in exile in Olympia Fields, taking photographs of snow. When he returned, less than two weeks ago, he found his home flooded out and his neighbors vanished, into the vacuum the hurricane created and the government sustained.
I don’t know what it’s like to miss New Orleans. I just visited for the first time, another middle aged tourist who doesn’t have the patience to wait the half dozen or so years for the AARP discount cards.
I am guessing the missing might be like the feeling you have after breaking up by phone with someone you shouldn’t have gone out with in the first place. It was doomed from the start, and deep down you knew better. But you couldn’t settle for being friends, and the sex takes over, chemical attraction really, like some goddam junkie, and pretty soon somebody gets hurt, maybe even bodies who didn’t have anything to do with it. And you’re never, ever gonna see that person again, because that’s what you have to do for true freaking love sometimes, just dance with the ghosts.