So here I am, Saturday, May 1st, in Des Moines, Iowa; looking out my window into my new neighborhood for the next ten days. We’re supposed to be setting up for the National Special Olympics that are being held in Lincoln, Nebraska this year; but our housing fell through. I guess that’s why they warn you that being flexible in NCCC is too rigid; you have to be fluid. We just finished our second full day of working with Des Moines’ Habitat. We’re living in a rehabbed drug house. We haven’t had the opportunity to live in a house yet; I think I can speak for everyone when I say, I LOVE IT. We’re a real family now. The only downside is one shower for 11 people. I think my favorite part of being here, so far, is feeling like a family and being in a neighborhood again. Britt Brat and I have our own room, we sit in the kitchen and talk/laugh about our families and how similar they are late into the night, Jess and I sit on the porch and sing as she plays her ukulele, James is always playing around on the Xbox in the living room, Someone is normally messing around on the guitar in the living room too, Jess and I lay on my bed and look out the window to watch the neighbors and listen to the sounds and the different radio stations everyone plays outside; I like watching the kids play soccer.
I made it back to Iowa with little crying during our two day drive from New Orleans. Our last project couldn’t have gone better, minus getting sick for the last week of work; not everyone agrees with me though. Considering the team was split up this round, working on different houses, doing different jobs, working with different people; some of Oak 5’s experiences were less than perfect. I guess I got lucky.
The past seven weeks have been full of; dancing to bad [beautiful] rap music (“asbestos!”), fried shrimp po-boys (“dressed”), “How ya’ll doin?”s, parades, festivals, friends from home, volunteers, volunteers, volunteers, roaches, hard mattresses made at the local jail, warm weather, Magazine Street hipsters, Ghetto Burgers, meeting Spirit at Starbucks, measuring tapes and shamefully learning how to read them, city park picnics every Saturday, crawfish, alligators, humidity, homeowners, bicycles, hospitality, the Tree House, frisbee every morning outside the office, 90s dance parties every night, the Mississippi River, New Orleans music, local artists showing their paintings in the Quarter, corn on the cob from the French Market, “Who Dat!!”s, embarrassing tan lines, a day trip to the beach, a goodbye visit, spaghetti dinners with homeowners every Thursday, Singing homeowners, flood stories, tears, reflections, the Lower Ninth, Brad Pitt for mayor, broken levees, corrupt governments, lives lost marked on porches with a simple number, axes and attics, hope, hugs, faith, thanks, God, friends, family.
I’d like to write about every detail that made up this past round, but I’m not sure I remember it all; and I fear you wouldn’t understand, but if I had to choose one thing to blame my love for this project on, it would be my construction assistant, Dan. Thanks for entertaining me, Buddy. “You da bestest; somethin’ somethin’, asbestos!”