My phone buzzed with the notification of a tornado warning. But, I dismissed it. Instead I googled the hours of Cafe DuMonde.
We filled our time in New Orleans with lighthearted fun. We ate delicious cajun food (still dreaming about beignets and gumbo), toured good musuems (I loved the Pharmacy museum and Greg swears by the WWII one), and listened to good jazz music while sipping on Hurricane daiquiris. Our significant others traveled in to see us, so we basked in the blissful joy of our reunions. As we all laughed on trolley cars and debated bar trivia questions and strolled through the Garden District, I didn't once reflect upon the tornado notification.
Until we rode through the devastation yesterday.
The storm pummeled the eastern part of the city. The National Guard blocked the destroyed section of Highway 90, but allowed us through despite their warnings. Streetlights lay smashed into cars. Rooves were ripped off of buildings. Powerlines tangled across the streets, their broken poles blocking passage on sidestreets. People wandered the streets, collecting their belongings flung across the city. Only the foundation remained of a once-grand church.
We pedaled slowly through the streets. The debris stifled our passage, but mostly the shock prevented my legs from pedaling quickly. I felt overwhelmingly self-conscious of my privilege.
I felt on the other side of the dichotomy I experienced last year, my senior year of college. While I lay devestated on my bed too grief-stricken to breathe normally, I heard the clank of high-heels of my peers merrily heading toward parties. While I flipped through all of my and Patrick's facebook photos together, I'd see notifications of my friends out dancing and drinking and organizing epic snowball fights. While I suffered, they celebrated.
And now I'd done the same.
While I wish I had some grand take-away on the contrast of the human experience, I don't. Instead, I just must remind myself to be empathetic, to be thoughtful. To remember that those tables so quickly turn, and turn again.