Posted by: posthaiti | January 25, 2010

coming and going

i’m officially over haiti news at the moment. and i’m sorry, flo, i missed your memorial today in williamsburg; like the time i missed my own grandfather’s funeral, i couldn’t bear to acknowledge the loss. the actuality of it. and why should i? does everyone need to grieve? maybe not. maybe it could be better, healthier (at least in the short term) to simply remember that person as being alive?

the good news is that flo’s remains are FINALLY headed on a flight back to her home in vermont, according to a blog that’s tracking this, organizing memorials, and in general, doing an excellent job of making an overwhelming situation more bearable. you can follow their progress, too, at the ‘we are going with flo’ blog.

in fact, something bizarre happened. i’ll preface it by saying this: a few weeks (or a month?) after my maternal grandfather died, i had a dream about him. it was SO vivid, and so personal — i actually felt that he was talking to me, winking at me, metaphorically, using words, a smile that i never saw when he was alive, but that suited him perfectly in my dream — i woke feeling that he had visited me. it was that real. it still makes me shiver a bit, as my grandmother, who passed when i was five years old, was in it, too. she was wearing a pastel pink dress; i could hear the material scratch against the folds as she sat down next to my grandpa, who himself wore a grey suit. he was the joker, and she, his demure queen. it was quite odd, since i’ve never dreamt of grandma and never knew her, actually. but here these two were, aflight on the ledge of a big picture window. i didn’t know what was outside the window, or how high up the apartment was, but it felt like it was part of my room and that they were coming into MY very window!

about four days ago, i went out to get a bottle of red wine. it was dark, and i was walking home alone. all of the sudden, as i passed a bar up the street from my place, a man walking behind me said something! i was kind of like, um, why are you talking to me? isn’t that a bit freaky, to start a convo with a woman from behind, at night, who you don’t know? not thinking much of it, i replied and walked on. the man, i noticed, was older than me, had a wiry frame, and wore greasy, scraggly blond hair.

about a day or two after that, i was headed to the gym. as i was climbing the stairs out of the subway station, my head down, my eyes watching the ground, i heard a noise from the man coming down the stairs. at first i thought he was on his cell and was talking to someone else. then i realized, he was talking to me. i looked up.

“did you have fun today?” he asked. taken off guard for a split second, i didn’t know what to say. flo crossed my mind, for some reason, as it was a random event like this that i imagine he might have seized upon and, well, created something out of.

“um, yeah,” i said. this man also had oily blond hair and was gangly. he looked like the man who talked at me the night before last, and i thought maybe it actually was the same guy who thought we were now friends since he recognized me. i paused. “did you?”

i’m not going to say i believe in visitations, but … could it have been flo, in some bizarre twist of time and universal laws of physics, joking with me, making me lighten up amidst my lethargic, grey mood? i don’t know.

anyway, a few of my HODR (hands on disaster response, a great volunteer-run org that is on the ground as we speak) friends are now in PAP, doing logistics work for an org called ‘project medishare.’ PM is bringing teams of volunteer doctors and nurses to the city for week-long stints, and the logisticians do everything that the docs don’t, i guess. i’m anxious to hear what it’s all about and how they’re going to be spending their time. i’ve already emailed them to see if they have any spaces open for next month; my friends told me that they’re full for the next week or two, but that they should have space in the coming month. while i’d like to stay more than a week, i’m not sure i can afford it on several levels. we’ll see.

i just heard that my friend in gonaives, james, lost several brothers, a sister, and an uncle who “meant the world” to him, roughly translated — they all were in PAP when the quake struck. we’ve only been able to send texts since i haven’t been able to get through at all due to the shitty network/no cell service down there. i wish i could do more, and it’s terribly frustrating. but i can’t. i can’t do anything. at this point, it’s best to stop thinking about it, as really, what can i do except keep reaching out to orgs that are on the ground and wait to see when and if they might be taking vols in the near future. my friend paul, who works with an org called ‘healing art missions‘ that’s based in dumas, a town east of PAP, told me to sit tight and wait; the emergency response alone, he says, will be months-long, and the rebuilding, much, much longer.

here are a few pics of the hotel oloffson, a prime example of the so-called gingerbread architecture that dots (or, dotted) the city. my stunning view from the balcony allowed me to take in the entire city, really quite gorgeous from “on high.” sigh. i wonder what is left, and what grimy magic the city can still evoke?

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