Tuesday, March 22, 2005

YES, I'm the person you saw on the news, already.

Why do people get so excited when they meet someone that's been on tv. It's not even like I'm REGULARLY on TV. I was a soundbite on the news on Sunday. I didn't even see it. Allegidly it was on all three broadcasts. People I don't even KNOW are pointing out to me that they saw me on the news. I figured it'd stop yesterday, how long can people remember that stuff?? But I got pegged twice today.

And what was up with mom judging my reaction to the opening of the church. She's like "I didn't know you couldn't go down there," in a mocking sort of way. No, in a way that says 'I don't believe what you said. How could you say such a thing?'

Lets see. I took Melissa to help with clean up. The entire area was covered in mud, the contents of the school were destroyed, and the mud line was up to my face. My SISTER was in that school when it started flooding. Ok, lets move on to all the stuff for the festival piled up like muddy, wet shipwreckage, cardboard posters, plastic stall covers, ALL the games. They were saggy, their paint running, gambling wheels broken with their partical board interiors sticking up all muddy and jaggid. All of the work we'd done a month before with the festival was washed up and junked next to the rectory. The school wasn't going to recover. I wouldn't get to see melissa play basketball in the gym this year. There wouldn't be a festival next year with opportunites to get heat stroke, burn myself, or work myself into exhaustion.

The entire contents of the kitchen were on the sidewalk, muddy carts piled with dirty silverware. Plastic buckets and dish towels in piles, pots stacked on the dusty sidewalk. I'd washed those, put them in the dishwasher myself. We'd filled those things up with funnel cake batter so high I almost gave myself a hernia carrying it out to the booth that was near where the pile of carnage now was. I'd burnt my hands, scrubbing over and over and over with the steel wool, trying to get all the dried batter off those pots.

Looking at the barely recognisable aprons, I thought about wearing one made of white rayon.. I collapsed in the nearest pew in the church on the last night of the festival, covered in batter, only some of it dried. At the mass for the festival workers, I never managed to remember to take my apron off until half way through mass. I could smell it on me, and the clinging smell of the vegitable oil, but I was too tired to care that I was disgusting in the house of God. Other people were there, some just trickling through the door. All were tired and had look of madness twinkling in their eyes. It had been a long week. I worked a tough stand, but I showed up at 7:30 when the crowds started rolling in. Some of these people started at 8am, cooking chickens for the night's dinner, or spend the morning running around getting supplies, like the paper plates we used up so freely. Their kids were with them, the ones that went to the school, kids who'd since moved on to high school or college. They'd helped too.

I imagined the left over plates and Burger King wrappers floating around in the flood water. There wouldn't be any more festivals.

Coming around the corner, I saw the greyish carpet from the inside of the church rolled up and muddied on the sidewalk in haphazard piles. The pews were stacked on the inside of the church, the wood floor exposed. The lights were out, the water had destroyed all the wiring. I could hear them banging away, electric screw drivers whistling as they pulled up more pews and chucked dirty stuff out the back doors of the church.

All the houses around the church looked no better. The street and their porches were covered in an almost marble-smooth layer of dried mud. Carpets and furnature were piled on the street up and down, as far as I could see. The few people I saw looked tired and shell-shocked.

After a half an hour of detours I managed to get out. I just hoped the kids could get a ride home or something, I didn't want to come back. I wanted to help, but I was moving myself. And I didn't really want to see the inside of the buildings.

No, mom. I didn't really have much heart to go back there and see that. Or see the sad products of efforts of trying to rebuild, and everything that had been lost. I don't want to see an empty classroom or kitchen. I liked working the festival. I liked seeing everybody at functions for the school. Now everybody's scattered to the winds. Melisssa goes to school at a place I hate driving to, because it's up a mountain and in the middle of nowhere, with those big power lines that're thought to give kids cancer. I only hear about the youth ministry from Jenn, who's at odds with the whole lot (if 'the whole lot' consisted of the youth minister's daughter and her pushover boyfriend). No more festival, no more school. No more banding together for the school. Excuse me for being torn up, mom, great judger of motives.

Ok, and excuse me for being torn up. Jenn and I walked into that church and neither of us could keep from tearing up at the smell of new carpet and paint. I could even smell the oil finish on the redone pews and confessionals. The church was full, the altar couldn't possibly have held any more priests in red, and it felt like everyone was getting back together again. It was like a high school reunion, but only with people you actually WANT to see. It was better than that... it was people I'd labored beside for a good cause.

So yeah, I was sniffly and emotional, and everybody just better deal.

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